Nature-Friendly Ordinances, by James McElfish

Land-use ordinances like planning, zoning, and subdivision regulations must often address issues of habitat conservation, ecological function, watershed management, and conservation of diverse plants and animals. Unfortunately, many elected officials and land-use planners are much less comfortable with these objectives than with economic development strategies, community design, and fiscal policy. There has been a longstanding disconnect between biological understanding and land-use regulation.

Nature-Friendly Ordinances
will help communities take affirmative steps to conserve and restore those biodiversity features of their environment that add value regionally and locally. It is intended for all local decision-makers that deal with land use, including planning staff, planning and zoning boards, local legislative boards, and property owners.

Local ordinances can contribute substantially to the conservation of biodiversity by supporting the creation and maintenance of conditions of ecological health on the local landscape. The lessons of ecology and conservation biology can enable local decision-makers to use their familiar land use tools more effectively in making their development and redevelopment more "nature-friendly."

Author James McElfish,who directs the Environmental Law Institute's Sustainable Use of Land Program, provides key features to help ordinance drafters integrate these considerations into their actions that affect land use. It defines the basic ecological guidelines that should guide land use decisionmaking by local governments. It identifies sources of biodiversity information and explains how local governments can tailor familiar types of local land use regulations to apply the ecological principles. Finally, the book provides examples of specific local governments that have used these land use tools.

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