Bridget's post about Texas got me thinking about perpetuity.
I spend most of my time thinking about land conservation these days. In particular, I have been obsessed with intrigued by conservation easements.
Conservation easements are like those restrictive covenants and easements we muddled through in our property classes. Although the details differentiating them are unimportant here, one key selling point of conservation easement is that they can be (and in many cases must be) perpetual. One of the more controversial arguments I have made recently is that conservation easements should not last forever. While I have no intention or need to reopen that debate here, I was surprised to stumble across an a recent article from the journal Biological Conservation. In Temporary Conservation for Urban Biodiversity, the authors argue against prioritizing brown fields for redevelopment. Specifically, they argue that leaving sites vacant temporarily (their study suggests 15 years) will increase urban biodiversity.
There are a lot of caveats here of course. Their case study is from Bremen, Germany where land-use planning laws and paradigms differ. They are only talking about what to do with brownfields, not benefits that may or may not accrue from greenfield conservation. And yet, I am still fascinated by this article. Land conservationists generally argue that brownfields should be developed instead of greenfields and that when we do preserve land, we should preserve it for as long as possible (preferably forever). This article challenges those assumptions.