The Wall Street Journal's Katy McLaughlin looks at the growing trend of high-end communities being situated around huge nature preserves, as developers highlight unspoiled nature as a luxury home selling point.

McLaughlin profiles two such recent developments, Sea Summit at Marblehead in San Clemente, Calif., located on a 248-acre coastal plot, being built by Taylor Morrison. When Taylor Morrison acquired the land's rights, it had to set aside 116 acres as a nature preserve, and must spend $4 million to reinstall native vegetation to attract certain species of birds.

Sea Summit is one of a growing number of high-end real-estate developments that have a large nature preserve as the primary draw. 

Nature preserves are also replacing the amenity that used to serve as the hub for many luxury developments: the sprawling golf course. Golf courses’ popularity surged in the 1990s because “developers could charge 10% to 25% more over a non-golf development,” said Ed McMahon, a senior resident fellow at the Urban Land Institute.

But with golf losing popularity, that trend has reversed: As of January, there were 15,372 golf courses in the U.S., down over 4% from 2005 ... Research has shown many people who buy homes on or near golf courses don’t even play the game, Mr. McMahon said; they just want to live near green space.

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