Measuring and Modeling of Urban Growth and Its Impacts On Vegetation and Species Habitats in Greater Orlando, Florida

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Vol: 1, Issue: 1

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Sim, Sunhui; Mesev, Victor
Urban Growth; Species Habitats; Vegetation; Multi-Criteria Evaluation; Florida; Sustainable Development; Earth Sciences; Environmental Sciences; Geography
article description
Urban growth is widely regarded as an important driver of environmental and social problems. It causes the loss of informal open space and wildlife habitats. Timely and accurate assessments of future urban growth scenarios and associated environmental impacts are crucial for urban planning, policy decision, and natural resource management. In this study, five distinct scenarios ("no constraints", "compact development", "transit-oriented development", "agriculture protection" and "environmental protection" scenarios) were tested on Greater Orlando, Florida, along with conservation objectives and projections for future land use/cover from development demands. The study examined the consequences of alternative scenarios of urban growth on potential habitat loss for a suite of species and vegetation habitats. As a result, the maximum impact is projected in "no constraints" scenario while minimum impact occurred in Scenario 5 ("environmental protection") across almost all vegetation and species habitats. The results indicated that the big challenge is how to manage compact growth to protect ecosystems. Florida has one of the biggest land acquisition programs in the US and a tradition in implementing sustainable development through growth management. The big challenge is how to allocate the fast-growing new population in the future along with these sustainable development objectives.