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Many states within the U.S., including Florida, have seen steady population growth since the 1950s. While population growth can lead to economic growth, excessive growth of urban areas can lead to negative externalities such as road congestion, air and water pollution, decreased access to open space, habitat loss, and habitat fragmentation. This realization has led to increasing political and stakeholder pressure to more comprehensively assess impacts of land-use planning projects on human-natural systems. The Ecosystem Services Assessment (ESA) approach is a relatively new approach which is described in the peer-reviewed literature as comprehensive and holistic. This dissertation study researched the potential of an ESA approach as a planning tool in Florida by addressing the following research questions: 1) What are the guidelines for best practices in ESAs from the literature? 2) How are ESAs currently used in land-use planning projects in Florida? 3) How is the traditional approach used in land-use planning projects in Florida? 4) What are key differences between the ESA approaches used in the case studies and the guidelines for best practices in ESAs? 5) What are key differences between an ESA approach and a traditional approach as they are currently used in Florida? The research questions were investigated through the use of an online survey, in-depth interviews, and analysis of three Florida case studies. Experts in the field of ecosystem services research were interviewed to assess how ESAs are used in Florida and to gather background information for the online survey and case studies. The target group for the online survey included respondents working for local, state, regional, federal and tribal government agencies, non-profit organizations, research institutes, universities, and other relevant persons who had been involved in projects in which ecosystem services were valuated, quantified, or described. The case studies that were assessed for this research are the Central Everglades Planning Project, the Florida Conservation Lands study, and the Tampa Bay Project.
A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Urban and Regional Planning in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Timothy Chapin, Professor Directing Dissertation; Keith Ihlanfeldt, University Representative; Christopher Coutts, Committee Member; Jeffrey Chanton, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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