The Changing Landscapes Initiative, a project led by the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, is working throughout the Piedmont and Valley to help localities understand how current trends and pressures in land-use will affect communities and natural resources now and in the future.
As an example of the tool that has been created, these landscape simulations illustrate how land-use decisions made now in Warren County could impact the county in 2061. Both figures simulate the same growth in population, based on current trends. The difference? Figure B simulates communities and planners and elected officials working together to craft and implement a comprehensive plan and all the zoning and subdivision ordinances that direct growth to specific areas while preserving open space. This new scenario tool stands to help the communities and planners visualize the impacts of their decisions.