Urban Sprawl continues to gobble up land

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{image-urban sprawl_24122007.jpg news.oneindia.in}Washington, Dec 24: Endless miles cluttered with strip development and new areas being connected with older residential areas are witness to the ever-increasing urban sprawling continuing for the past several decades.

Despite reports to the contrary, a study of changing land use patterns in the state of Maryland found substantial and significant increases in sprawl between 1973 and 2000. The results challenged last year's well-publicised study that claimed that the extent of urban sprawl remained roughly unchanged in the US between 1976 and 1992.

According to Elena Irwin, co-author of the study and associate professor of environmental economics at Ohio State University, ''Areas where sprawl increased the most were the exurban areas that were even beyond the suburbs.'' The study looked for evidence of fragmented land use areas where housing was juxtaposed with agriculture or forested areas.

Results published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences revealed that the level of peak land-use fragmentation was 60 per cent greater in 2000 as it was in 1973, and shifted outward from the central cities to a distance of 55 miles in 2000, up from about 40 miles in 1973.

It found that people were moving away from the center of cities and increasingly more people were living on larger lots which increased the level of sprawl.

While the basic theory of metropolitan areas development had been that when pockets of land beyond the suburbs were developed, the area nearer the central city would be filled in before development moved even further out.

The new reality of sprawl, however, suggested that development was taking place further out, reflecting the diminished pull of city centers, Ms Irwin said, explaining, ''More people have jobs in suburban areas, or are telecommuting, and no longer have the need or desire to live close to the major cities.

Moreover, they were also being drawn out by natural amenities in rural areas, such as lakes, oceans, forests or mountains.

While the study was done only for the state of Maryland, researchers expected the results to be applicable to other places witnessing substantial urbanisation.


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