Environment

The Charlotte metropolitan region’s future depends on the health of its natural and built environment, from tree canopies to preserved natural areas to sound land use planning and urban design. The institute offers articles and research on a variety of environmental topics.

For even more articles about the environment visit PlanCharlotte.org

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Articles about environmental topics

  • Eastern hemlock needles and cones in Charlotte, NC

    Some mountain conifers make the Piedmont their home

    In December, the familiar Fraser fir population reaches its fleeting peak in the Piedmont as Christmas trees are harvested from farms in the North Carolina mountains and brought to market.  But two other species of conifers largely restricted to the mountains have found surprising refuge in our region — at least for the time being.
  • Great Falls, South Carolina (SC) paddling.

    Rebuilding the Carolinas Urban-Rural Connection: Where do we go from here?

    Our purpose in studying the 32-county region wasn’t to merely document a Carolinas version of the familiar urban-rural divide. Instead, we sought to go beyond the conventional narrative of an irreversible split, and seek examples of connections –  either residual or new – between urban and rural communities. Connections that might provide opportunities for renewal in places still struggling to adapt to the changing economic landscape of the 21st century.
  • The Blue Ridge Parkway in the Pisgah National Forest.

    How our changing landscape sustains us all

    Ecosystems such as forests and wetlands provide clean air and water, food, building materials, and recreational opportunities. The benefits people receive from nature are referred to as “ecosystem services.”  Our interactions with ecosystems can have a positive impact, boosting our health and the economy. We can also have a negative impact on the health and survival of these natural resources.
  • Hay bales on a farm in Cleveland County. Across the greater Charlotte region, farmland is being lost quickly to development. Photo: Nancy Pierce

    Farms and sprawl: Conservationists worry they’re losing the battle

    About 45 minutes from Charlotte in neighboring Cabarrus County, the owners of 1,000-acre Porter Farms raise chickens and pigs on part of their land. The chickens are sold to Tysons Foods, and the pigs become sausage, pork chops and spare ribs for Smithfield Foods. Another part of the property is a cattle farm, and since 2012 it also has become a destination for those seeking a taste of the country. Two large, climate-controlled barns with expansive views of the scenic landscape host weddings and other events. Over the past few years, the family has taken steps to make sure their land won’t ever be used for subdivisions or gas stations.