© Chesapeake Bay Program (Chesapeake)

Land Trust Capacity - Chesapeake Bay Watershed


This map depicts one aspect of the capacity to conserve important resource lands, in this case the capacity of local and regional land trusts.

Data Layer Description


Chesapeake Conservation Partnership & Land Trust Alliance


Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.


The land trust community has been protecting land for multiple values for decades. Today, some 100 regional, state, and local land trusts operate in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, collectively protecting more than 1.8 million acres of land. Many of these organizations have significant capacity to protect more important lands in the future. The additional capacity of strategic, national land conservation partners can help accelerate conservation in areas of shared interest.

How can we get a picture of where regional and local land trust capacity is currently concentrated in the watershed? Where do land trusts focus their work within their service areas? How does staff time directly translate to capacity for conservation? How should we account for the additional contributions of all-volunteer land trusts? Where in the watershed is the land trust community interested in continuing or expanding conservation efforts?

This map illustrates land trust staff capacity based on defined service areas of land trusts at the county level.

This map uses land trust staff size (in FTEs) dedicated specifically to new land conservation and to stewardship of existing conserved land as an indicator of capacity. —expressed as a “heat map” of areas of relatively greater or lesser capacity. It also indicates—with dots for mailing addresses—the presence and locations of all-volunteer land trusts.

The Land Trust Alliance’s National Land Trust Census in 2015 gave us an initial picture of staff sizes for land trusts in the watershed, but we needed a more precise indicator of capacity dedicated primarily to land conservation and stewardship, rather than other organizational functions., Consequently, we developed a survey specifically for this mapping exercise. The survey asked land trusts in the region with at least one half-time staff person to self-report capacity levels and county-defined service areas for land conservation and stewardship activities. We also asked land trusts where they would expand such work if staff capacity allowed. Seventy-eight percent (39) of land trusts surveyed responded; we estimate this captures approximately 95% of the existing staff capacity for conservation-oriented protection and stewardship.

The map uses November 2017/February 2018 data to depict levels of land trust staff capacity, in FTEs, per county covered. FTEs have been averaged across the number of counties in a defined service area, with land conservation capacity divided by the number of unprotected acres and stewardship capacity divided by the number of protected acres. This provides a general overview of areas of greater or lesser capacity, relatively speaking. We expect to refine this approach and continue outreach and data collection for greater accuracy in future iterations of this Atlas.

How to get the data layer

Contact Jeff Allenby, Chesapeake Conservancy,

How you might make use of this data layer

This dataset informs where the greatest capacity for may lie for land trusts to carry out land conservation and stewardship. It may also indicate significant gaps where much more capacity is needed.

How to get more information

For more information about the Chesapeake Conservation Partnership contact: John Griffin, Program Manager,

Access and use constraints

Attribution No Derivatives (BY-ND)



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