Environmental Planning

Conceptual Framework

In past decades, land use decisions were made with little consideration given to the natural attributes of the land. Environmental features were often considered obstacles or hindrances to be overcome through engineered design solutions or intensive site modifications.

With a better understanding of the ecological impacts of land uses, it has become clear that the natural carrying capacity of the land must be carefully considered in land use decisions if the natural attributes and functions of the environment are to be maintained for future generations.

To ensure resources are maximized and used in the most cost effective manner, a framework was needed to provide the basis for land use decisions in order to create and maintain sustainable communities.

Thus, Alachua County has adopted a whole-systems thinking approach. Whole-systems thinking is a process through which the interconnections between social, economic, and ecological systems are actively considered, and solutions are sought that address multiple problems at the same time.


Strategies of Planning

Whole-systems thinking offers Alachua County its approach to environmental conservation and protection. This approach encompasses an array of strategies that are presented under four major categories: information, land acquisition, regulatory, and incentives.

  • Information Strategies include indicators tracking, information sharing, education and outreach, civic engagement, and intergovernmental coordination. Visit our Development Trends page for more details on tracking indicators.
  • Land Acquisition Strategies employ the use of voluntary acquisition tools, such as sales, donations, and dedications of interests in land for conservation purposes. Visit the Land Conservation page (aka Alachua County Forever) for more details.
  • Regulatory Strategies include implementation of land development regulations that promote conservation and environmental protection efforts.  Visit our Land Development Regulations page for more information.
  • Incentives Strategies include tax breaks, innovative planning and zoning, rural land stewardship areas, and cost-shares and certification programs. Several programs administered by partner agencies (both federal and state) provide incentives for private owners to restore or preserve their land.  Visit our Resources page for more information.