Lake St. Clair Coastal Habitat
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Developed Land

Detroit waterfront

Photo: Geat Lakes Commission

Developed lands can range from heavily built up urban centers to suburban residential neighborhoods with expansive lawns. In general, constructed materials such as buildings, concrete and asphalt make up at least 50 percent of the surface area in developed lands. Developed lands can include airports, malls, factories and interstate highways in what would otherwise appear to be rural settings. As impermeable surfaces increase, storm-water infiltration and groundwater recharge decrease accordingly. As less of the landscape is covered with vegetation on developed lands, the specific composition of the remaining vegetation is critical in determining the overall habitat value of the land. Within the project area, high intensity developed lands are concentrated in Detroit and its northern suburbs in Michigan, and in Windsor, in the Canadian portion of the project area.

High intensity developed lands generally have little habitat value. In recent years, peregrine falcons, normally a cliff-nesting species, have successfully established a breeding population in the skyscrapers of downtown Detroit but this is the exception rather than the rule. Areas that do provide habitat can be particularly significant given the relative scarcity of alternatives in developed lands. Natural areas in urban parks can serve as critical ecological corridors when they link to larger patches of habitat outside the city core. These areas, especially those with forests, ponds or wetlands, can provide critical habitat for migratory birds amidst a sea of concrete and rooftops.

Within the project area, C-CAP satellite data show over 175,000 acres (70,819 hectares) of developed lands.

For more information, see: Coastal Habitat Assessment, Section IV (PDF)