Publications & Presentations

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 Landscape Scale Conservation in Downeast Maine 

Over more than a century, conservationists have been protecting the exceptionally scenic and biologically rich landscape on Maine’s Mount Desert Island and the Schoodic Peninsula. This case study chronicles a series of conservation initiatives in the public, civic (non-profit) and private sectors that continue to inspire land protection efforts in Hancock and Washington Counties in the 21st century. Today, a conservation corridor is being envisioned from Schoodic Point to Schoodic Mountain and beyond, in a spirit very similar to that of young Charles Eliot, who with his fellow members of the Champlain Society extolled the remarkable qualities of Downeast Maine in the early 1880s. 

Innovate to Meet The Challenge of Conservation


In Nov 2012, James Levitt (director of the Program on Conservation Innovation at the Harvard Forest, Harvard University  and fellow at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy) was among many speakers at TEDxBeaconStreet who participated in an independently organized TED event featuring ideas and innovations from the Boston region and beyond.  Jim spoke about the history of land conservation and the potential for the next level.  You can see the entire presentation here.


Wildlands & Woodlands 2012 Update 

A newly released 2012 W&W Update celebrates some of the recent success stories in increasing the pace of New England conservation- and the many committed people behind that success. The W&W Update includes examples of innovative conservation deals, policy initiatives, finance strategies, community collaboration, and how the W&W vision is helping inspire new conservation collaboration in New England and beyond. 

Report Of The Massachusetts Commission on Financing Forest Conservation

By: James N. Levitt, Commission Staff, and Leigh Youngblood, Commission Chair, on behalf of the Commissioners 
July 2011

In this report we have set forth several new opportunities and imperatives that can enable citizens of the Commonwealth to advance conservation through public legislation and administrative action. The report is a culmination of some five years of work by a variety of groups, including a roundtable, an advisory board and a commission. 

2011 Conservation Leadership Dialogue on The Future of Large Landscape
Conservation in America

By: James N. Levitt & Charles C. Chester
May 2011

This report on the 2011 Conservation Leadership Dialogue on The Future of Large Landscape Conservation in America was produced based on a one-day meeting of invited guests at the Members of Congress Room in the Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. The event was a program of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, and partner organizations, including the Center for Natural Resource and Environmental Policy at the University of Montana, the Regional Plan Association, and the Sonoran Institute. 

Wildlands and Woodlands: A Vision for the New England Landscape

May 2010 

Wildlands and Woodlands is not just a forest conservation plan and it is not written for a specific political moment—it is a vision for the next half century and beyond. It is intended to safeguard the basic green infrastructure and natural services we need in the face of significant economic and environmental stresses we face now and those sure to come. The Wildlands and Woodlands vision seeks to preserve and enhance the many ecological, socioeconomic, and cultural benefits of forested landscapes for everyone in the region, from our most densely settled cities to our most heavily wooded lands.  

Financing Forest Conservation Across The Commonwealth: Using Aggregation and Mitigation To Conserve The Forests of Massachusetts

By James N. Levitt, Jason Sohigian and Kate Isenberg

June 2010 (Revised September 2010)

This is a research publication of The Program on Conservation Innovation at the Harvard Forest, Harvard University. Prepared with support from The Massachusetts Environmental Trust. This study notes the potential significance of aggregation and mitigation as strategies to finance the conservation of wildlands and woodlands across the remarkable diversity of landscapes in the state, from the lowlands of Cape Cod to the heights of Mt. Greylock. 

2009 Conference on Conservation Capital in the Americas

Report on the Conference on Conservation Capital in the Americas

In January of 2009 leaders of land conservation from across North and South America met in Valdavia, Chile to discuss innovative methods to fund conservation in the Western hemisphere. Among the topics they considered was the creation of conservation easements and land trusts in regions where no such instruments now exist.

Participants gathered at the Universidad Austral de Chile to focus on the best practices for bringing new sources of capital to the conservation of land and biodiversity. Among the 120 participants were public sector legislators and administrators, private entrepreneurs, non-profit experts in the practice of conservation, and professors and students from some 17 universities in North, Central and South America.

Conservation Capital in the Americas:
Exemplary Conservation Finance Initiatives

Conservation finance is the subject of this volume, based on a conference held in January 2009 in Chile attended by more than 100 conservationists and policy makers, to consider methods to find financial capital – as well as human, social, and natural capital – to steward the earth's resources for future generations. 

Report on the Woodlands and Wildlands Conservation Finance Roundtable

In April 2006, the Program on Conservation Innovation at the Harvard Forest convened more than three dozen experts in conservation finance from around the nation to consider innovative mechanisms for financing the Wildlands and Woodlands vision - a vision first articulated by David Foster and his colleagues in 2005.

2007-08 Conservation Leadership Dialogue on Conservation and Climate Change

2008 Report on Conservation and Climate Change

In May of 2008 the Lincoln Institute for Land Policy once again hosted a conference, this time in Washington DC, to discuss primarily "how the land and biodiversity conservation community can effectively devise and implement effective adaptive management strategies to address the ongoing impacts of climate change on conservation land and water resources, as well as agriculture and rural communities." Read more of the report.

The primary coordinators of the event, Jim Levitt and Charles Chester wrote the follow-up essay on the 2008 conference discussed below:

Conservation and Climate Change: The Immediate Need to Adapt
James N. Levitt and Charles C. Chester, Fall 2008

Report on Conservation Finance Intermediaries

In March, 2007 the Program on Conservation Innovation at the Harvard Forest convened a group of conservation finance experts from around the nation to consider the present status and prospects for conservation finance intermediary organizations that help to connect a wide variety of financing sources with deserving land protection initiatives, typically on a regional basis. The report on this meeting, available here, features the insights of more than two dozen senior executives and subject experts active in the field.

The American Conservation Tradition and the Land Trust Alliance

James N. Levitt, Fall 2007

Photo by Ron Niebrugge wildnatureimages.comThe Land Trust Alliance published a special report for its 25th anniversary in 2007 entitled "A Report on the Future of Land Conservation in America" highlighting a few leaders in conservation. One of these leaders was Jim Levitt, Director of the Program on Conservation Innovation, who wrote an essay about how America not only has a strong tradition of conservation that is often ignored today, but it actually spearheaded the conservation movement around the globe. From the founding of the Boston Commons, to the creation of Yellowstone, the first ever national park, the United States has been a model for the rest of the world in the field of land conservation and should continue to fulfill that role.

"Conservation via Satellite: Leveraging Remote Sensing to Monitor the Pingree Easement": MIT Press, Spring 2006

Click here for access to an article by Jim Levitt regarding the satellite technology-enabled monitoring protocol used by the New England Forestry Foundation to monitor the 762,000 acre Pingree conservation easement in northern Maine. The article appears in the new MIT Press journal, Innovations:

Technology/Governance/Globalization, Volume 1, Number 2, Spring 2006.

"Conservation Incentives in America's Heartland": Land Lines, October 2006

James N. Levitt, October 2006

Landlines Issue October 2006Levitt's insightful article on the need for fiscal and market-based incentives, especially with regards to agricultural runoff in America's rivers and streams, was published in the Lincoln Institute for Land Policy's quarterly journal, Land Lines. Currently, the water of the Mississippi is so polluted with fertilizer runoff and other pollutants that the Gulf of Mexico's waters have become hypoxic at the mouth of the river, making it impossible for life to exist in the area. In order to address these problems in a serious way, we can no longer simply depend on command-and-control policies that provide no incentives for the average farmer in the Midwest and Western United States to follow them. The most efficient and effective way to control the growing issue of eutrophication in our rivers would be to give the agricultural sector incentives to stop allowing fertilizer runoff to enter streams.

From Walden to Wall Street: Frontiers of Conservation Finance

James N. Levitt, editor. 2005. Island Press and Lincoln Institute

From Walden to Wall Street brings together the experience of more than a dozen pioneering conservation finance practitioners to present groundbreaking ideas for dramatically expanding the availability of capital for land and biodiversity conservation in the United States. The authors explore a wide array of promising opportunities, including: mainstreaming environmental markets; enhancing government ballot measures for land conservation; using new forms of tax-advantaged financing; and leveraging the power of private debt and equity markets.

"Landscape-Scale Conservation: Grappling with the Green Matrix": Land Lines January 2004

James N. Levitt, January 2004

Landlines Cover Issue January 2004In June of 2003, with support from the Lincoln Institute for Land Policy at Harvard University, the U.S. National Park Service Conservation Study Institute (NPS CSI), the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy (GGNPC), and the Quebec-Labrador Foundation (QLF), more than two dozen senior executives of private, non-profit, academic, and public sector organizations convened at the Presidio of San Francisco for a two-day conference to advance the understanding of landscape-scale conservation efforts. This article appeared in Land Lines, the quarterly newsletter of the Lincoln Institute for Land Policy, and summarizes the discussions and findings of the conference participants.

Introduction to the Next Level: The Pingree Forest Partnership as a Private Lands Conservation Innovation

James N. Levitt, September 2003

The Pingree Forest Partnership, a multi-year effort spear-headed by the New England Forestry Foundation to acquire a permanent conservation easement on 762,192 acres of privately-owned forestland in the state of Maine, stands out as an important conservation innovation. Conservationists are striving to transfer several of the innovative aspects of the Pingree project to new initiatives in North America and around the world.

Conservation in the Internet Age: Threats and Opportunities

Edited by James N. Levitt, with an introduction by Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack, October 2002

Conservation in the Internet AgeConservation in the Internet Age, published by Island Press, offers a cross-disciplinary analysis of critical changes on the land and in the field of conservation. Contributors include leading scholars and practitioners in the fields of land and biodiversity conservation. The book examines the links among land use, technology, and conservation from multiple perspectives and suggests areas and initiatives that merit further investigation. The associated web site offers links to additional information and resources.

"Land and Biodiversity Conservation: A Leadership Dialogue": Land Lines, July 2002

James N. Levitt, July 2002

Landlines Cover July 2002This article appeared in Land Lines, the quarterly newsletter of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. It summarizes the discussions and findings of a group of two dozen eminent conservationists who met at the Lincoln Institute in March, 2002, to consider the grand challenges facing the North American land and biodiversity conservation community in the twenty-first century.

Conservation Innovation in America: Past, Present, and Future

James N. Levitt, December 2002

This paper analyzes the distinct subset of American conservation innovations based on the criteria of novelty, significance, effectiveness, transferability, and ability to endure. It also recognizes the challenges twenty-first century conservationists are facing in order to bring forth a new generation of landmark innovations commensurate with the considerable threats to open space and biodiversity we now face.