New forces influencing savanna conservation: increasing land prices driven by gentrification and speculation at the landscape scale
Tyrrell P., Naidoo R., Macdonald DW., du Toit JT.
Land transformation reduces biodiversity and regional sustainability, with land price being an indicator of the opportunity cost to a landowner of resisting land conversion. However, reliable spatially explicit databases of current land prices are generally lacking in developing countries. We used tools from data science to scrape 1,487 georeferenced land prices in southern Kenya from the internet. Prices were higher for land near cities and in areas of high agricultural productivity, but also around the Maasai Mara National Reserve. Predicted land prices ranged from US$662 to US$4,618,805 per acre. Land speculation associated with expanding urbanization increases the opportunity and acquisition costs of maintaining conservation buffer zones, corridors, and dispersal areas. However, high land values are also found adjacent to a world-famous tourist destination. Profit-driven turnover of ownership, subdivision, and transformation of land is occurring at a rapid pace in southern Kenya, to the detriment of savanna biodiversity and the sustainability of the pastoral social–ecological system.