Protecting Land Resources
"In the end, our society will be defined not only by what we create but by what we refuse to destroy.”
The built environment has direct and indirect effects on the natural environment. The built environment affects wildlife habitats ecosystems, endangered species and water quality through land consumption, habitat fragmentation and replacement of natural cover with impervious surfaces. Certain patterns of development place little value on the importance of natural systems. As growth becomes a sprawl of roads and rooftops, there is a great need to plan and protect wildlife habitat and ecosystem services.
More than 25,000 species live in Pennsylvania’s woods, fields and streams. Forests cover 17 million acres or about 60 percent of our total land area. As the patterns of sprawl and growth continue, natural systems are disrupted, destroyed or displaced by the unplanned spread of the built environment. In recent decades, habitat destruction has caused the loss of 56 percent of our wetlands, 156 plants and animals have disappeared and other valuable habitats are being fragmented or destroyed.The wetlands and woodlands of Pennsylvania protect biological diversity and provide ecosystem services to the natural and human communities.
Planning allows us to guide growth while protecting valuable habitat. Educating people about land choices is a step toward protecting environmental resources. This lesson provides an overview of tools and strategies that help to protect the natural resources and green space. Participants will focus on habitats and organisms that tell a story about the impact of land choices. Participants will examine valuable ecosystem services and learn to apply the land use tools that help protect resources and open space.