An Open-Space Future is Possible

It sometimes seems that all open space is destined to be filled with human stuff and, when that is done, space will be chopped up (fragmented) into small pieces that are no longer spacious. We believe that there is a better, achievable destiny—one that preserves a significant fraction of the space that we now have.

We CAN limit space loss

Oilfield near Pinedale WY. This oilfield is on public (BLM) land. Oil and gas field on BLM land near Pinedale Wyoming (Google Earth image)

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The key to limiting space loss is to fix the system, rather than trying to protect space one parcel at a time.1

Space loss can be restrained to a specific limit by implementing a system built on two principles:

  1. Measuring space with dimensions that truly reflect spaciousness.2
  2. Coupling loss of space to nearby preservation of space.3

This can be done using free and open markets.

Our vision

Our vision is to establish standards and mechanisms that cause loss of space in one place to be compensated by protection of space nearby, in a managed ratio, using existing methods of space protection (conservation easements) and trading of space losses in one place for gains in protected space in another (mitigation banking).

Guaranteeing preservation of a planned amount of open space

Here is the best part: over the long term we can preserve an intentional, planned fraction of the current de facto (protected and unprotected) open space!The amount of space that ultimately will be preserved is determined by regulations. There is a brief explanation in a footnote on this page4 and a more expansive explanation on the regulations page.

Balancing space loss and space preservation in a free financial market

Space is balanced by trading space lost for space gained, in a free financial market.

It is nearly impossible to recover space that has already been lost, because recovery requires, at a minimum, the closing of roads and restoration of road rights of way—restoration of slopes, soils, and vegetation. While that has been done in a few places, it is expensive and time consuming. What is needed first is a robust system that preserves a planned fraction of the space that remains. Balancing space loss with space preservation does exactly what is needed, but if that were to be attempted on a parcel-by-parcel basis it would be cumbersome (see The Parcel-by-Parcel Problem).

Instead, a system is needed that monetizes space (gives it specific financial value). Balancing space loss and space preservation, however, does not happen exclusively in the realm of finance; we propose to balance space-for-space (and not necessarily in a 1-to-1 ratio), not dollar-to-dollar or euro-to-euro. Currency serves as an intermediary, just as it does for any other commodity, and supply and demand establish the price of the space commodity.

Read more…


Three coupled ingredients ensure space for the future.

Measuring Space

One essential ingredient is proper measurement of space.

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Major topics:

1 The system that we envision actually joins single parcel preservation efforts into a larger system of preservation, by creating a flow of funds into conservation of single parcels. It bolsters and amplifies present space preservation efforts.
2 Area and distance from human constructions must be combined to make an effective measurement of space. See Measuring Space I, Measuring Space II, and Measuring Space (Technical).
3 The coupling is accomplished with a single regulation. See How?.
4 If space is required to be preserved in the ratio P:D (P is the amount preserved; D is the amount developed), then the fraction of remaining space that will be preserved is P/(P+D). For example, if regulations require a P:D ratio of 2:1, then 2/(2+1) = 2/3 of existing space will be preserved.