Land Cover: Open Space
During the period 2000 to 2025, if development practices remain the same, the United States is expected to lose 7 million acres of farmland and 7 million acres of fragile lands to real estate development (Burchell, Downs, McCann, & Mukherji, 2005). Land cover is constantly changing in the city and surrounding region. Despite the traditional definition of Houston as a sprawling city because of its large land area, Houston has more recently been described as an ‘Opportunity City’ because it has an openness to outsiders; a diverse and entrepreneurial economy; a friendly business climate; commitment to transportation infrastructure; and a positive attitude towards growth (Kotkin, 2007). The Houston transportation region is composed of 13 counties. In a 2005 analysis of ecosystems in the 8 most central counties, there has been a loss of up to 40% of some ecosystems to development. The analysis shows there has been a loss of 25% of Big Thicket, 14% of Coastal Marshes, 21% of Columbia Bottomlands, 31% of Piney Woods, 16% of Post Oak Savannah, 40% of Coastal Prairie, and 11% of Trinity Bottomlands ecosystems (Blackburn, 2011).
Sustainability Benefit: Houston is a large city capable of absorbing a lot of growth and development.
Sustainability Issue: Growth and development does not maximize land utility since most development in the city has single story buildings. As a result more open space and natural areas are developed and commuting distances increased.