According to a new report by a trio of environmental groups, expanding urban sprawl is putting a third of America’s endangered species at risk of extinction within the next two decades as a result of habitat loss. The report, entitled “Endangered By Sprawl: How Runaway Development Threatens America’s Wildlife,” was produced by the National Wildlife Federation, Smart Growth America, and NatureServe. The report details how the rapid conversion of once-natural areas and farmland into subdivisions, shopping centers, roads and parking lots is jeopardizing the future of more than 500 wildlife species teetering on the brink of extinction.
Beyond publicizing the threat, the report recommends altering local land-use patterns and improving state and federal natural resource and transportation policies as potential remedies.
“As Congress prepares to debate the future of the Endangered Species Act, this study drives home the critical role that better planning must play in both protecting threatened wildlife and improving our cities and towns,” says Don Chen, executive director of Smart Growth America. “To check runaway land consumption, we need to provide incentives for development in existing urban and suburban areas, build new development at higher densities, and set aside natural areas as off limits to new development.”