Impacts Of Urbanization On Environmental Resources: A Land Use Planning Perspective
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The main purpose of this thesis is to (1) study the impacts of urbanization on environmental resources, and (2) propose land use planning strategies to avoid or at least minimize the impacts from future land use planning and decision making process. Urbanization, one of the major drivers of land use change, has profound impacts on environmental resources. It has been revealed that more than one third of the U.S. water resources have already been impaired or polluted, and many species have become endangered or threatened with some already gone extinct and more on line. My analysis of the impact of urbanization on environmental resources in Austin, Texas has found that more than 10 percent of the existing urban developments are in environmentally critical areas. Since 1950 the demographic trend of the United States of America has reversed its pattern from rural to urban. Now more than 80 percent of the U.S. population lives in urban areas, of which only one third lives in urban core and rest in the suburbs. Many surveys and research estimates show that this trend is more likely to continue for another few decades. Therefore, the environmental impacts of urbanization are certain to intensify unless we change our land use planning and decision making process. This thesis proposes two major strategies of land use planning: "Where to" strategy and "How to" strategy. These two strategies are based on the premise that recognition and protection of environmental resources must be on the top of land use planning and decision making hierarchy process.