The Devastating Link Between Wildfire and Sprawl

“On Tuesday at COP21, the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, global leaders are talking about forests, and how to protect and restore the world’s remaining wooded lands. The focus is primarily on halting global deforestation, which comes largely from industries like logging, agriculture, and ranching. But officials would be wise to keep in mind that deforestation is also occurring as a result of suburban housing development.”  From: www.citylab.com

GR:  Unfortunately, housing development in the U. S. is in the hands of local zoning authorities. Since building houses is a profitable business, it is not reasonable to assume that the locals can prevent continued sprawl into patented and deeded land.

It is interesting that urban-sprawl areas aren’t like closed-canopy or continuous forests yet they burn anyway. This raises real doubts about the efficacy of thinning and let-it-burn policies.

It is important to keep in mind that the real loss is not the burned houses; it is the loss of soil and vegetation destroyed during construction. People and houses are increasing, but wild animals and the natural habitats they need are declining.

U. S. leaders must grow the courage to insist that local zoning authorities force developers to build high-rise clustered housing and save the land for wildlife.  This reduces deforestation and protects biodiversity.

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