Navigation Links
Location, location, location
Date:10/24/2007

As housing developments sprout across the United States, smart growth proponents have urged communities to cluster developments in concentrated pockets, instead of the more standard and familiar sprawl. Cluster developments create a far smaller footprint on the environment, affecting a smaller portion of the land area than dispersed houses. The initial motivation for cluster development was to protect open space, farmland, and rural character. Yet few studies exist that empirically demonstrate that such concentrated development patterns are indeed better for the surrounding environment.

Now a study in this months Ecological Applications, a journal of the Ecological Society of America, finds that while cluster development is indeed much easier on the surrounding environment, the location of housing developments is key.

Charlotte Gonzalez-Abraham and Volker Radeloff (University of Wisconsin-Madison) and colleagues focused their study of housing patterns and habitat loss on Northern Wisconsin over a 50+ year time period. While the number of houses in the study area increased by 353 percent from 1937 to 1999, the amount of habitat lost was far lower than expected, underscoring the effectiveness of cluster development in minimizing habitat loss.

Supported by federal grants from the U.S. Forest Service Northern Research Station, the researchers determined the environmental impact of cluster development by mapping 27,419 houses from historic aerial photos for five time periods in 17 townships in northern Wisconsin.

The percentage growth of disturbed land area was much lower than for housing growth; in the most extreme case, a 1658 percent increase in the number of houses resulted in only a 204 percent increase in the disturbed land area, says Radeloff.

Development in northern Wisconsin was already clustered in 1937 and as new houses were constructed, they were generally placed within the vicinity of existing homes. In contrast, the national trend in the U.S. has been toward more dispersed housing since the 1940s.

Environmental effects begin during housing construction and their impact on wildlife populations and the landscape continues for decades. During housing construction, natural vegetation is removed or disturbedsparking soil erosionand habitat is lost and fragmented. Wildlife movement is restricted by roads and fences, bird nests may be abandoned, and non-native species may move into the area.

Gonzalez-Abraham, Radeloff, and colleagues found that in their northern Wisconsin study area habitat loss was greatest (up to 60 percent) in deciduous forests and lowest in wetlands. But they also found that houses were strongly clustered alongside lakeshores. One of their study areas, the Northern Highlands, boasts one of the highest concentrations of kettle lakes in the world, offering appealing recreational and scenic amenities and drawing extensive housing growth.

People and wildlife are often drawn to the same places and that exacerbates the environmental effects of houses, notes Radeloff.

Around lakeshores, those effects can include loss of ground-nesting birds, green frogs, wood turtles, and loss of habitat for fish as lakeshore residents clear away aquatic vegetation and woody debris. Also, the value of lakes as a natural amenity diminishes when shores are too densely developed, a concern of citizens and land use planners in northern Wisconsin.

Clustering housing developments clearly help lessen damage to the surrounding environment and to plants and animals say the authors. But the question of where houses are placed in the landscape is crucial.

Some areas are going to be more important to avoid than others because of their conservation value, says Radeloff. High density development in areas such as lakeshores means degrading habitat we prize for its scenic and recreational value. In order for clustered development to reduce the impacts of housing developments, clusters must be located away from sensitive areas.


'/>"/>

Contact: Nadine Lymn
nadine@esa.org
Ecological Society of America
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. New protein vital for immune response is found in surprise location
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/22/2016)... , PROVO and ... Newborn Screening Ontario (NSO), which operates the highest sample ... molecular testing, and Tute Genomics and UNIConnect, leaders in ... respectively, today announced the launch of a project to ... (NGS) testing panel. NSO has been ...
(Date:3/18/2016)... -- --> --> Competitive ... Unmanned Vehicles, Physical infrastructure and Perimeter Surveillance & Detection Systems ... security market and the continuing migration crisis in the ... has led visiongain to publish this unique report, which ... defence & security companies in the border security market ...
(Date:3/15/2016)... , March 15, 2016 ... report published by Transparency Market Research "Digital Door Lock Systems ... Forecast 2015 - 2023," the global digital door lock systems ... Mn in 2014 and is forecast to grow at a ... of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) across the world ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:5/25/2016)... ... May 25, 2016 , ... Thailand’s Board of ... 2016 in San Francisco. Located at booth number 7301, representatives from the Thai ... and discuss the Thai biotechnology and life sciences sector. , Deputy Secretary ...
(Date:5/25/2016)... ... 25, 2016 , ... WEDI, the nation’s leading authority on the use of ... Stellar has been named by the WEDI Board of Directors as WEDI’s president and ... leader with more than 35 years of experience in healthcare, association management and organizational ...
(Date:5/24/2016)... ... May 24, 2016 , ... Last week, Callan Capital, an ... and entrepreneurs, held The Future of San Diego Life Science event at the Estancia ... science community attended the event with speakers Dr. Rich Heyman, former CEO of Aragon ...
(Date:5/23/2016)... , May 23, 2016 Oxitec CEO ... th at 10:15 a.m. ET before the United States ... genetically engineered mosquitos can play in controlling the spread of ... the Zika virus.      (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20150630/227348 ... mosquito with a self-limiting gene. Trials in Brazil ...
Breaking Biology Technology: