Lindsey Bargelt, from North Carolina, studies protected land areas in the Environmental & Life Sciences program at Trent University.
Lindsey works with the Kawartha Land Trust, a local non-profit, to develop a model for prioritizing what lands to protect and how to identify natural wildlife corridors.
She also compares States in the U.S. to see how private conservation plays a role in the connectivity of protected area networks.
She uses a special software that utilizes line-graph theory, which gives a metric of what percentage of each state is protected and connected for dispersal distances.
She compares protected areas to non-protected areas.
Unsurprisingly, private conservation doesn’t play a major role in most states because there isn’t a lot of privately protected areas, especially in states with a lot of farmland.
What Lindsey has found is that the size of protected areas and the number of them might not really matter – placement is the most important factor as far as “connectivity” is concerned.
Connectivity, according to Lindsey’s research, is crucially important to conserve and re-create physical connections and protected corridors in landscapes around the world. Protected areas will give animals and plants a chance to live in their natural state.
Numerous studies have shown that the only way to mitigate the mass extinctions we are facing from climate change and human development is to protect as much land as possible.
The public can work on their own to protect land by volunteering their time and donating money to support private organization groups like the Kawartha Land Trust, or national level conservation organizations like the Nature Conservancy. Preserving our beautiful natural areas should be everyone’s priority!
Lindsey told us, “The CREATE Enviro program I’m in as part of my ENLS degree has provided me with many opportunities beyond a normal masters program. The program sponsored my internship with the Kawartha Land Trust so I could work as an intern instead of being a graduate teaching assistant for a term, and gain real hands-on, work experience. This internship experience has been the highlight of my masters experience because of the real conservation work I was able to contribute to. The program also allowed me to travel to Scotland to attend an Ecological Niche Modeling workshop, a valuable skill I can add to my resume and research.”
Thanks for sharing your research with us, Lindsey!