Preserving Local Character and Landscapes

The landscapes around the Chesapeake Bay watershed are economically, ecologically, culturally and recreationally valuable. Conserving these landscapes protects access to green spaces and healthy waterways, protecting your community’s values and quality of life. This module provides foundational information, resources and case studies to support your land use decision-making.

Read the video transcript

In this topic you will learn

  1. How do land use planning and conservation strategies support my community?

  2. What tools can I use to understand land use changes in my community?

  3. Where can I find more resources to help my community plan for the future?



Studies show a correlation between the amount of trees near a school and the academic performance and wellness of students. Student access to trees and natural landscapes also provides opportunities for hands-on environmental education.

A textbook, indicating education.

Economic Development

Farms are an essential source of income, and create jobs that support local economies. Many farms organize agritourism activities, such as festivals, farm and vineyard tours, corn mazes and more. In 2015, agritourism stimulated $2.2 billion in economic activity in Virginia alone.

A dollar sign, indicating economic development.

Public Health and Safety

Trees improve community health by cleaning the air we breathe and the water we drink. They also mitigate the effects of urban heat islands, and lower stress and crime rates.

A heart and a plus sign, indicating public health and safety.

Infrastructure Maintenance and Finance

Forests absorb and slow runoff, decreasing the risk of flood damage. Forest buffers also filter out excess nitrogen at half the cost ($3.10 per pound) of wastewater treatment plants ($8.56 per pound).

A house, indicating infrastructure.

Case Studies You'll Find Inside

Misty Meadow Farm

Weyers Cave, Virginia

Preserving Farmland for Future Generations

In 1974, Robert and Linda Clements bought Misty Meadow Farm. In 2010, they established a conservation easement on their property to preserve their farm and protect their investment for future generations.

An aerial view of green farm fields and, in the distance, mountains. (Envato Elements)

Here's How You Can Help

An icon of a magnifying glass search tool. Use land use data to identify vulnerable areas and prioritize conservation efforts.
An icon of a blue and a green hand mid-handshake, indicating collaboration. Share this module with your planning commission and discuss the tools you can use to plan for the future.
An icon with a blue heart on top of a green leaf, indicating environmental conservation. Support conservation actions, like preserving open space or guiding development toward urban and suburban areas.

Learn More About This Topic

Related Topics