Why Conserve?



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Development consumes 350 acres of Pennsylvania open space per day. Learn how you can become active in your council through an Environmental Advisory Committee.

Resources in Danger: Open Spaces

Open space holds different meanings for people. It might be a field or forest, public park with playing fields, wetland, pocket park or a lake or stream. It is land that-- for the most part-- is free of buildings. Its values include helping to clean the air and water; wildlife habitat and biodiversity; flood protection; scenic vistas; streetscapes; recreation; and education. Open space connects us to the natural world, and makes a community a place where people want to live, work and play.

Of its 28.7 million acres, Pennsylvania is graced with 17 million acres of forest land and 7.7 million acres of lush, rolling farmland. But that landscape is changing.

The threats. According to a report by the Brookings Institution , Pennsylvanians are spreading out to suburbs and abandoning older communities. We urbanized four acres for every new resident between 1982 and 1997, more than any other state but Wyoming. Development consumes almost 300 acres of open space each day.

The future. Across the Commonwealth, communities are searching for ways to boost economic growth, protect their environment and public health, and preserve a high quality of life. They want to see older neighborhoods revitalized. They want to see their local waters protected. And they want to preserve farmland and green space close to home.

Efforts are underway to explore creative ways to help communities further their efforts to promote more livable communities, including:

 • Community Conservation Partnerships Program, a state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources grant program that provides funds to community and non-profit organizations for planning, open space protection, greenways and trails, local parks, rivers conservation and other efforts.

 • County Greenway and Open Space Planning, planning with leadership from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources that is an important tool for helping counties position themselves for sustainable growth.

 • Better Models for Development, a book and approach that is a great tool for local and county governments and community leaders as they plan for the future.

 • Conservancies and land trust associations, whose work protects natural areas and our remaining open lands.