September 27, 2021

Singh Publishes Journal Article on Private Landownership and Land Conservation

Department of Political Science and International Affairs Associate Professor Ranjit Singh

Department of Political Science and International Affairs Associate Professor Ranjit Singh

Department of Political Science and International Affairs Associate Professor Ranjit Singh article titled “‘Been Heres’ and ‘Come Heres’ in Stafford County, Virginia: Private Landowners and Land Conservation on the Urban Fringe” appeared in the Fall 2020 edition of the peer-review journal Environment, Space, Place.

Private land is vitally important to land conservation efforts, but access to private landowners is a challenge for researchers. Using a participatory research approach, this article studies the preferences and concerns of such landowners on the rural-urban fringe of Stafford County, Virginia. Interviews with 53 private landowners show that conservation is deeply embedded within key social, moral, cultural, and political contexts, including a divide between long-term and newer residents. Successful conservation requires such social knowledge. It is argued that landowner skepticism about local government points towards joint strategies between local government and partner groups. Land conservation choices should be framed as an affirmation of—not limitation on—property rights since urban fringe landowners are likely to see such rights (especially long-established notions such as “by-right” development) as under attack. Conservation also presents an opportunity for community building in rapidly urbanizing areas, since older residents often feel excluded or unappreciated by local government and newer arrivals.

This research was supported by a Jepson Fellowship, and is an outgrowth of Prof. Singh’s long-term involvement in local land conservation, including his current service on the board of directors of the Northern Virginia Conservation Trust.