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Data for: High-resolution land value maps reveal underestimation of conservation costs in the United States

Citation

Nolte, Christoph (2020), Data for: High-resolution land value maps reveal underestimation of conservation costs in the United States, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.np5hqbzq9

Abstract

The justification and targeting of conservation policy rests on reliable measures of public and private benefits from competing land uses. Advances in Earth system observation and modeling permit the mapping of public ecosystem services at unprecedented scales and resolutions, prompting new proposals for land protection policies and priorities. Data on private benefits from land use are not available at similar scales and resolutions, resulting in a data mismatch with unknown consequences. Here I show that private benefits from land can be quantified at large scales and high resolutions, and that doing so can have important implications for conservation policy models. I develop the first high-resolution estimates of fair market value of private lands in the contiguous United States by training tree-based ensemble models on 6 million land sales. The resulting estimates predict conservation cost with up to 8.5 times greater accuracy than earlier proxies. Studies using coarser cost proxies underestimated conservation costs, especially at the expensive tail of the distribution. This might have led to underestimations of policy budgets by factors of up to 37.5 in recent work. More accurate cost accounting will help policy makers acknowledge the full magnitude of contemporary conservation challenges, and can assist with the targeting of public ecosystem service investments.

Methods

See Methods & Materials in Nolte (2020) PNAS

Usage Notes

The density of training data and the spatial distribution of prediction error are important indicators of data quality. See Methods & Materials and SI Appendix in Nolte (2020) PNAS.