Smart land use supports natural disaster control & prevention

Since January 2002, there have been three emergency declarations and 18 major disaster declarations in Virginia; 9 of them include flooding. Between 2010 and 2014, 313 floods caused $25.9 million in property damage in Virginia. Most Virginia residents are familiar with major road washouts and damage to private residences. Conserving land in floodplains protects the wetlands and other natural areas that absorb these potentially flood waters.


Forests protect water and air quality.

Two-thirds of the country’s clean water supply is provided by forests. Large amounts of healthy trees are also vital to producing clean air. The forests of Northwestern Virginia provide residents with spaces for tourism, recreation, and solitude. Our forests are also rich with wildlife, including iconic species such as the black bear, bobcat, endangered Shenandoah salamander, spotted turtles, and barred owls. Forests comprise over half of the focal area for CLI; just under a third of this forested land is protected public land and 7% is protected private land.


Dependence on cropland for agriculture is deeply rooted in Virginia’s culture.

5% of the focal area is cropland with less than 1% protected public land and 8% protected private. There are 46,000 farms in Virginia that provide 311,000 jobs, making agriculture an important part of the economy—even in the most urbanized communities.


Grasslands protect water quality, provide habitat, and boost agricultural production.

Grasses comprise a third of the focal area with less than 1% protected public land and 11% protected private land. These areas capture water and filter pollutants, minimizing contaminants before they reach our surface water supplies. They also provide habitat for native birds and pollinators essential to Virginia’s agricultural production.


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Virginia Working Landscapes
Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
1500 Remount Road
Front Royal, Virginia 22630
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