The Protected Agricultural Lands Database (PALD) is a first-of-its-kind comprehensive national inventory of spatial data about protected agricultural lands. It contains boundaries of easements that permanently protect private farmland and ranchland in the U.S. as well as important information about each site. This database was compiled by the American Farmland Trust GIS Team as a complement to data gathered through surveys by AFT’s Farmland Information Center of state and local Purchase of Agricultural Conservation Easements (PACE) programs and land trusts that protect agricultural land for agriculture.
Protected Agricultural Lands Database
The PALD is designed to complement and integrate with other efforts to inventory protected lands across the U.S. It incorporates data from the U.S. Protected Areas Database (PAD-US), USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Easement Programs, the National Conservation Easement Database (NCED), state and regional protected area inventories, state and local agricultural land conservation programs, and private land trusts. The PALD was created with funding support from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Why PALD is Important
National databases like the PAD-US and the NCED provide an inventory of protected lands nationwide, but the PALD is the first comprehensive effort to map protected agricultural lands across the country. In addition, other nationwide protected lands efforts have gaps in the coverage and identification of agricultural easements that American Farmland Trust is uniquely suited to help fill. The PALD is also an important element of AFT’s Farms Under Threat research projecting future impacts of development and climate on the national agricultural land base.
- Promote and measure the success of agricultural land protection efforts nationwide.
- Inform future agricultural land conservation efforts.
- Provide information on protected agricultural lands and their benefits for researchers.
- Quantify environmental benefits of permanently protected agricultural lands.
- Assist land trusts, state and local government agencies, and other agricultural land protection organizations with a standardized inventory of spatial data on protected agricultural lands.
PALD at a Glance
- Nearly 7 million acres of protected agricultural land, comprised of over 42 thousand parcels.
- Data from over 400 sources and 650 easement holders.
- Over 2 million acres identified as PACE program easements.
- 860 thousand acres of NRCS agricultural land protection programs.
How to Access the PALD
Please contact our GIS Team at firstname.lastname@example.org to request data.
Visit AFT’s Story Map of the PALD to learn about the benefits and examples of how to use it.
How You Can Help
Please contact our GIS Team at email@example.com to provide additions to the database or share comments.
We respect and account for landowner privacy in the PALD. We remove any easement boundaries that private land protection organizations do not share publicly from any public presentation of the PALD and only include them in state level summary statistics unless explicitly given permission to share with the public.
Limitations and Disclaimer
The PALD is a work in process. While we strive to make the PALD as complete and comprehensive as possible, there are known gaps in the PALD both in terms of actual easements and the attributes assigned to them. As the PALD is a compilation of data collected from hundreds of sources, data quality, vintage and standards differ throughout the database despite our ongoing efforts to standardize data incorporated into the PALD.
Viewing or using this data does not imply a right to access or visit easements included in the database, as the vast majority of easements are closed to the public. Recognizing that overlaps and intersects in the boundaries exist in this dataset is also important when using the PALD in land area analyses. While American Farmland Trust staff have attempted to flag all overlaps as a “conflict not adjusted” there may be some that have been overlooked and therefore that should be taken into account when reporting out acreages.