UAlbany Biologist Advises Congressional Committee on Urbanization

Contact: Karl Luntta (518) 437-4980

Gary S. Kleppel, an associate professor of biological sciences and director of the Biodiversity, Conservation and Policy Program at the University at Albany, testified before a congressional committee on the impact of urban development on coastal areas and land use. The Jan.15-16 testimony was taken in Charleston, South Carolina.

The U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy invited Kleppel to report on the Land Use - Coastal Ecosystem Study (LU-CES), a multi-year, regional study of the effects of changing land use patterns and coastal development on the natural and economic resources of the salt marsh estuaries of the southeastern United States. Kleppel heads the study.

"The environmental response to urbanization is well documented," Kleppel said. "It degrades. However, we are finding that all types of urban development do not degrade ecosystems to the same extent."

The goals of LU-CES are to develop an understanding of the mechanisms underlying ecosystem changes, and to develop models and tools that can be used by decision makers, particularly at the local level, to minimize and mitigate the negative impacts of changing land use patterns to coastal ecosystems. While the LU-CES project concentrated on coastal ecosystems in the southeast, Kleppel envisions applications in Albany and across the nation.

"By understanding how different kinds land use affect ecosystems," Kleppel said, "it is possible to design communities that do minimal damage to the environment. In the study that I head up, scientists from major universities and government labs are producing fundamental information about how various land uses affect the integrity of salt marsh ecosystems. Our team of resource managers, urban planners, senior scientists and data base managers is developing the procedure for packaging that fundamental information so that it can be output to a variety of potential user and interest groups to help them address specific problems related to urban development and environmental quality."

The Commission, charged with developing a national ocean policy, met in Charleston as the first of a national tour of nine regions around the country where public and expert input will be provided.

Established in 1844 and designated a center of the State University of New York in 1962, the University at Albany's broad mission of excellence in undergraduate and graduate education, research and public service engages 17,000 diverse students in eight degree-granting schools and colleges. For more information about this nationally ranked University, visit


Return to University at Albany Home Page

Return to University News & Information Page