What’s Going On?
Urban sprawl is the rapid expansion and development of cities and towns. It is characterized by low-density residential housing, single-use spaces, and an increased reliance on personal automobiles to get around.
Rapid population growth is the main reason for urban sprawl in Florida. A recent report estimates that the state’s population is projected to grow by 303,264 residents a year, or 831 people per day. More physical spaces for people to live in, work in, and visit will be needed, which can also lead to an increased demand on natural resources.
Why It Matters.
Threat to Biodiversity
Oftentimes, urban development encroaches on wildlife territory and destroys the natural landscape of the area. Widespread building construction is fatal to plant and wildlife habitats, and wildlife can be forced to cross dangerous areas dominated by human activity, such as highways.
Overall, the destruction of these habitats due to urban sprawl leads to habitat fragmentation and a loss in biodiversity.
Demand on Resources
Urban sprawl also increases demand for energy and water. The low-density neighborhoods that characterize communities experiencing urban sprawl consume more energy per capita than high-density neighborhoods that are closer to city centers.
Additionally, single-family houses, which are typical of a suburban setting, often require more water use than city apartments because of things like lawn care, swimming pools, and more of restrooms.
Reliance on Automobiles
Because homes, workplaces, businesses, and schools are all dispersed, residents must become more reliant on cars for transportation.
Traffic is typical of a community experiencing urban sprawl, and commute times are much higher. This means residents pay more for bus transportation, road construction and maintenance, and infrastructure. More car use also emits more greenhouse gases and exacerbates health and environmental issues caused by air pollution.
What you can do.
- Learn more about Smart Growth solutions.
- Carpool or use other forms of transportation that lower traffic and environmental impact.
- Be energy-conscious and preserve natural resources.
- Advocate for protection of agricultural and undeveloped lands.
- Learn about the Florida Wildlife Corridor.
- Choose thoughtfully when to travel from your home to other places in your area.
- Get engaged with efforts in your community.
Information from UF/IFAS, Encyclopædia Britannica, American Journal on Public Health, & CBS Miami.