Northern Ohio needs to do more to boost land conservation efforts, according to a new report.
About 7 percent of the land in 14 counties in Northeast Ohio, some 295,000 acres, have been preserved as green space but more needs to be done, says the report from the Western Reserve Land Conservancy.
Ideally, between 10 percent and 15 percent of land should be protected permanently, according to experts.
Summit, Stark, Portage, Medina and Wayne counties were included in the assessment, along with Cuyahoga, Lake, Lorain, Geauga, Erie, Huron, Mahoning, Trumbull and Ashtabula counties.
“Knowing where we stand today, in terms of preserved land, should help us understand how to make our region an even better place to live, work and play in the future,” said Liz Mather of the Land Conservancy. She co-authored the report with staffer Ken Wood.
The report says “the window of opportunity for preserving the best of our region’s natural resources is closing fast. It cannot be reopened.”
It adds: “The land preservation community must act quickly, decisively and collaboratively to answer the formidable challenges now facing northern Ohio. The stakes are huge.”
The report is envisioned to become a tool for the conservation community in the region.
The 14-county region has been preserving land at the rate of 1 percent per decade, the report says.
It says that at that rate, it would take 30 years to reach 10 percent land preserved and 80 years to reach 15 percent.
The 62-page report, Common Ground: The Land Protection Report for Northern Ohio, found that 5 percent of the farmland in the region is protected. But that means that 95 percent of farmland could be lost to development.
The report, a first-ever comprehensive examination of local land conservation, was a collaborative effort by local land conservancies, park districts, outdoor groups, soil and water conservation districts and community leaders.
Topics in the report include public parks, urban sprawl, urban neighborhoods, loss of farmland, rare plants and animals and public funding for land preservation.
The report was coordinated and funded by the conservancy, a nonprofit group based in Moreland Hills. Additional support came from the Alton F. and Carrie S. Davis Foundation and the Sandra L. and Dennis B. Haslinger Family Foundation.
Plans call for revisiting the topic every three years with annual updates.
The report is available at www.wrlandconservancy.org/RegionalLandProtectionReport. Single copies also are available by calling 440-528-4150.
Bob Downing can be reached at 330-996-3745 or firstname.lastname@example.org.