Zoning for Urban Wildlife and Biodiversity

Zoning Practice — January 2013

By Kristen Ploetz


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Considering their relative abundance, it is not surprising that urban wildlife like squirrels, deer, coyote, birds, bees, butterflies, and native flowers and trees are regularly overlooked when it comes to local planning and zoning considerations. While there are federal, state, and local regulatory schemes in place to protect endangered or threatened species and sensitive habitats, there has been a relative lack of local protection for non-endangered species in our nation's cities.

But biodiversity and its significance is not limited to faraway places like rainforests and island reefs. Indeed, it abounds within urban areas as well. Yet with increased development pressures that result in landscape modification and fragmentation, loss of habitat, increased human presence and density, more obstructive man-made features, and increased competition between native and invasive species, it turns out that even the most mundane members of our urban ecosystems are being affected.

This issue of Zoning Practice highlights steps a few trailblazing cities have taken to protect biodiversity through local development regulations.


Page Count
Date Published
Jan. 1, 2013
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American Planning Association

About the Author

Kristen Ploetz