Ethan Landen, a senior biology major at Davidson who has served as DLC’s Roy Alexander Intern, offers this summary of his ongoing research on conservation issues in Davidson and the North Carolina Piedmont.

As the world population grows, there is more pressure to develop greater land for housing, agriculture, and businesses. The Southern Piedmont, ranging from Charlotte to Atlanta, is experiencing high rates of land-use change from rural and agriculture toward greater development for neighborhoods, commerce, and industry. The fast rates of land consumption in this region are leading to greater stresses on infrastructure, natural lands and ecosystems, and local farms.

While the Town of Davidson has a sustainable approach to development, with many green spaces, parks, and the Davidson College ecological preserve, Charlotte’s urban sprawl and pro-development policies are spreading to towns like ours, where ample space can support neighborhood developments. This direction is necessary to the growing economy of metro Charlotte, but can outcompete balancing influences important to sustaining growth. My research explores how and if we can strike a balance with respect to natural ecology, sustainable planning, and consideration for the future—important aspects easily glossed over in the rush to grow and develop.