The Negative Impacts of Sprawl

Though sprawling development patterns have occurred because of policy decisions and subsidies that have interacting with evolving consumer preferences for residential location, the following impacts frequently associated with sprawl are typically considered to be negative:

  • Conversion of significant amounts of forests, crop land and pasture land into developed land
  • Decrease in the amount of farmland acreage, and the viability of traditional farm enterprise
  • Depression in farm economies and increased strain on agricultural productivity
  • Increased concentration of livestock animals in their grazing/feeding range, which increases disease and sanitation problems
  • Fragmentation of open space, wildlife habitat, open space and rural land ownership
  • Degradation of natural wildlife habitats, and reduction of food sources for wildlife
  • Increase of occurrences of wildlife invading human spaces, being nuisances in neighborhoods, and being hazards on highways
  • Increase in the costs of municipal public services (e.g. road maintenance, public transportation, municipal water and sewage systems, landscaping, public safety) as  costs per resident usually increase as services must cover a wider territory with a lower density of residents
  • Related increase in local tax rates in sprawled areas, and increased strains on local budgets
  • Increase in automobile-dependency and related traffic congestion
  • Increase in automobile pollution, particularly in formerly unpolluted areas.
  • Increase in greenhouse gas emissions related to both transportation patterns and building efficiencies