21-0309 Limit to Growth and Habitat Exchange Conservation Area
The project is requesting to satisfy LCC I-01 Limits to Growth and LCC I-03 Habitat Exchange with the same land area destined towards conservation. The conservation area falls under a Tropical & Subtropical Coniferous Forests classification. On the other hand, land used towards project development is former agricultural farmland that has been abandoned since 1995.
Located in Mexico, the project is pushing the boundaries of real estate development within a developing country. The land destined towards conservation, and thus, towards LCC I-01 Limits to Growth and LCC I-03 Habitat Exchange has an area larger than 100 contiguous acres. It is located on the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt, a natural corridor which connects Mexico’s southern region with the north and creates natural mountainous barriers between east and west. Land conservation through this corridor is essential. Old growth forests stabilize the soil preventing erosion from impacting lower lands. Extensive tree canopies create shade and offer a wide range of biodiversity in the area, creating a high value habitat.
The project aims to conserve this land through a partnership with Pronatura Mexico which is the largest environmental conservation group in Mexico. Although not part of the Land Trust Accreditation Commission it adheres to Land Trust Alliance Standards and Practices. Pronatura Mexico has a proven track record, focusing on land conservation, waterbody cleanups and agricultural workshops.
As detailed in Dialogue 19-04 LCC I01 + I03 Conserved Land Contributing to Multiple Imperatives, greenfields protected in perpetuity in compliance with the requirements of LCC I01 Limits to Growth that also meet the requirements for protection under LBC 3.1 I03 Habitat Exchange, may also count towards the habitat protection requirements of LCC I03 Habitat Exchange.
As identified in the project team’s Dialogue post (and Master Plan documents under separate cover), the area of land proposed for conservation meets the LCC I01 Limits to Growth requirement associated with greenfield development in specified regions, to conserve (through partnership with a reputable land trust) twice as much land on or adjacent to the Community as is developed.
However, it is not clear whether any of the proposed conservation area meets the criteria of high value, intact ecosystem, protected primarily for the benefit of non-human species, as specified in the LBC 3.1 Place Petal Handbook under I03 Habitat Exchange, which must also be met in order to count towards I03 Habitat Exchange requirements. For example, land that is formerly monoculture agriculture would not be considered intact and high value and the areas that border the parcels to be developed raise questions regarding the viability of benefitting primarily non-human species.
In order to permit an evaluation of whether any of the land proposed for protection in compliance with the I01 Limits to growth may also count towards the habitat protection requirements under I03 Habitat Exchange, the project team will need to delineate and quantify the area specifically proposed to count as I03 Habitat Exchange area, and clearly justify how it meets the criteria of high value, intact ecosystem protected primarily for the benefit of non-human species. In addition, the method of protection for all land proposed for protection needs to be identified and documentation of the proposed land trust’s adherence to the Land Trust Alliance’s Standards and Practices will also need to be provided.