Greenbelts Under Scrutiny

Cities from Corvallis to London use greenbelts to preserve habitat and ease urban congestion. Who doesn’t want the benefits of city living with a backyard the size of New Jersey? Not all greenbelts, however, are created equal, and although some may save critical environmental features, others have failed to restrain urban sprawl.

Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

On his Per Square Mile blog, “When Greenbelts Fail,” Tim De Chant of the Kellogg School of Management reflects on a 2003 paper by Oregon State University resource economists Junjie Wu and Andrew Plantinga. De Chant’s conclusion emphasizes the need for careful analysis of greenbelt function within a larger urban context.

In Corvallis, campaigns are under way to retain a property known as Witham Oaks as open space and to buy part of Bald Hill Farm for habitat preservation and recreation.

OSU’s Scholars Archive has another resource for investigating greenbelt impacts. Mark A. Bernard’s master’s thesis, Determining relative benefits to communities from urban and agricultural land use change in Napa County, California, is available for download here.