Urban sprawl imperils species, report says

If you needed one more reason to hate urban sprawl, we’re happy to help: It’s imperiling species left and right. According to a report by the National Wildlife Federation, Smart Growth America, and NatureServe, the next 25 years will see more than 22,000 square miles* of habitat lost to development in 35 of the sprawlingest metropolitan areas in the U.S. This comes as bad news to the 553 species the groups identified as unique to those areas. “The bottom line is that these species are at risk of extinction due to habitat destruction,” said John Kostyack, an NWF lawyer and one of the report’s authors. “And in these metro areas, the leading cause of habitat destruction is sprawl — development of homes and office buildings and roads in outlying forests and farm fields.” To ease the imperilment, the groups recommend preserving open spaces, giving incentives to build in already-developed areas, and encouraging developers to construct more high-density projects.

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*[Correction, 13 Jan 2005: This summary originally stated that the next 25 years will see more than 22,000 acres of habitat lost to development. This is an error we repeated from the AP story. In fact, the actual estimate is 22,000 square miles.]

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