The MEECS Land Use Unit will help students observe and analyze land use and land use planning challenges our society faces; the unit will also engage them in considering some of the possible solutions to these challenges. The unit is designed for grades 4-6 and supports Michigan Content Standards aligned science and social studies curricula. Lessons and activities can be adapted for other grades as well as for non-formal education programs.
Topics addressed in the unit include using air photos to identify lad uses, mapping and measuring the land use changes in a community, comparing changes in agricultural land use in Michigan, comparing changes in forest land cover in Michigan, using tables and graphs to analyze changes in land use in Michigan counties, analyzing how land use conflicts are resolved in a democratic society, examining the values that different people hold for different types of land uses, and evaluating the role of land use as it interacts in the environment with air and water.
The land use challenges that we face as a state and as a country are increasing consumption and competition for the limited amount of available land. While our population is increasing at single digits, the amount of land being consumed for residential and suburban development is increasing in the double digits. Michigan's land is rapidly changing in the way it is used, and citizens of the State must be certain that the smartest possible choices are being made regarding how this valuable natural resource is used. Students will be encouraged to explore possible solutions to these challenges through a smart growth approach to land use planning.