Best Practices

Land Use

Below are some of the leading visions and frameworks that are emerging to help reshape and guide community land use decisions toward sustainability and quality of life.

Multifunctional rural landscapes: Impacts of land-use change in Nebraska
Twyla M. Hanson and Charles Francis report that the conversion of farmland near cities to other human uses is a global trend that challenges our long-term capacity to provide food, fiber and ecosystem services to a growing world population. If current trends continue in the U.S., the population will reach 450 million by the year 2050. At the same time, an accelerating change in land use will reduce today’s two acres per person of farmland to less than one acre per person. This is scarcely enough to produce food for our domestic population, without any food available for export—even assuming advances in technology. We need to take these trends seriously, as the national economy and domestic food security are threatened by conversion of land to nonfarm uses.
Their work was also featured in Prairie Fire in June 2009.

Principles of Smart Growth
Members of Minnesota’s Smart Growth Network endorse these ten principles.

Ahwahnee Principles
A highly acclaimed set of community and regional principles developed by a leading group of architects and urban planners to assist local government officials in planning for quality of life and sustainability.

New Urbanism/Neo-Traditional Planning 
An urban design reform movement to restore urban centers, build cohesive neighborhoods and districts, conserve natural environments, and preserve the legacy of our built environment.

Ecological Landscape Planning
A procedure for studying the biophysical and sociocultural systems of a place to reveal where a specific land use may be best practiced.

Land Use Agenda for 21st Century America
A ten-item agenda for sustainable land use practices to promote stewardship, quality development, and environmental progress (about halfway down the page). The agenda appears in Land Use in America, the report on the Sustainable Use of Land Project by Henry L. Diamond and Patrick F. Noonan. The agenda was developed through collaboration and consultation with planners, conservationists, mayors, corporate chief executives, builders, farmers, and policy activists.

Smart Growth Principles
Six principles that are considered good growth practices by the Sacramento Region Blueprint, a joint effort of the Sacramento Area Council of Governments and Valley Vision.

Smart Growth Principles
A set of principles used by the Vermont Smart Growth Collaborative to define smart growth. The entire website is devoted to smart growth and is worth browsing.

Sustainable Community Design Principles
Seven principles put forth by the Florida Center in its report Transportation, Land Use and Sustainability, describing the backbones of a theory of sustainable community design.