Nature in Fragments: The Legacy of Sprawl

Nature in Fragments: The Legacy of Sprawl

Nature in Fragments: The Legacy of Sprawl

Nature in Fragments: The Legacy of Sprawl

Synopsis

Sprawl creates and contributes to habitat loss, fragmentation, pollution, and a host of other environmental problems. This new collection focuses on the impact of sprawl on biodiversity and the measures that can be taken to alleviate it. With contributions from leading biological and social scientists, conservationists, and land-use professionals , Nature in Fragments examines the genesis of sprawl, its effect on species, and the ways in which it alters natural communities, ecosystems, and natural processes. Issues discussed include the impact of sprawl on freshwater ecosystems, the economics of biodiversity in urbanizing landscapes, building public awareness of the impact of sprawl, conserving biodiversity through better-informed planning, and assessing the effectiveness of conservation efforts. The contributors illustrate the need to more comprehensively integrate biodiversity issues, concerns, and needs into the growing number of antisprawl initiatives, including the "smart growth" and "new urbanist" movements. By combining scientific and public-policy discussions, this collection enriches the efforts of those working to create more sustainable human environments.

Excerpt

This book is based in part on the symposium [Nature in Fragments: The Legacy of Urban Sprawl,] held in April 2000 at the American Museum of Natural History and co-sponsored by the museum's Center for Biodiversity and Conservation and the Wildlife Conservation Society's Metropolitan Conservation Alliance. The impetus behind the conference—and this bookwas to create a platform from which to integrate biodiversity issues, concerns, and needs into the growing number of antisprawl initiatives, including the [smart-growth] and [new urbanist] movements. Our goal is to add biodiversity to the agenda of all who are creating more sustainable human environments, but who may not be fully considering ecological issues and opportunities associated with more informed development. A second, related goal is to deepen and broaden the discussion about sprawl's impacts on biodiversity and to include looking at ways in which sprawl affects species and alters or modifies natural communities, ecosystems, and processes.

There is widespread acknowledgment that biodiversity on Earth is imperiled and that we are in the midst of an extinction spasm of unprecedented proportions, caused primarily by human activities (Wilcove et al. 1998). Overpopulation and overconsumption, the roots of this crisis, are generally discussed in terms of the following threats: habitat loss, fragmentation, and degradation; invasive species; pollution; overexploitation of biological resources; and global climate change. Sprawl creates and contributes significantly to these threats, thus both directly and indirectly causing the decline of biodiversity.

For the purposes of this book, we define sprawl as poorly planned, land-consumptive development, regardless of where it is located. It occurs at the edges of cities or in rural fringes within commuting distance of metropolitan centers. But sprawl also can be found in more remote areas. Second-home development . . .

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