Unbridled development, whether urban density or suburban sprawl, can destroy something people need to have around them: nature.
Restoring nature in built-up areas, redeveloping older neighborhoods to make room for nature, and considering nature when planning growth are topics that will be discussed at a summit in Annapolis on June 3.
The summit is the third in a series begun last fall by the Alliance for Sustainable Communities, a preservation organization focusing on Annapolis and the Annapolis Neck peninsula. Previous summits discussed area sites that people should deem "sacred" and how to make neighborhoods livable.
The June summit will focus on nature, preserving waterways to the Chesapeake Bay and reducing pollution.
"A significant concern of planners and people who understand the watershed is that we don't add to our problem by making our cities more dense without curing the ecological problems we have caused," said Anne Pearson, alliance director. "People say we are creating the slums of the future. Unless development is sensitively designed to show that it complements the natural landscape, it won't be long-lived."
The conference is not a day for hand-wringing over sprawl and choking traffic. After the morning's presentations, participants will form groups in the afternoon, examine topographic and land-use maps and come up with suggestions for creating natural corridors of trees, parks, paths and creeks.
The information will be given to Annapolis and the county, whose planners are drafting new land-use plans.
Ms. Pearson said she expects 200 people to attend the summit, which is to be held from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. in the Joint Legislative Hearing Room opposite the State House in Annapolis.
Tom Schueler, executive director of the Silver Spring-based Center for Watershed Protection, will be among the speakers. The nonprofit corporation helps communities protect and restore urban watersheds.
The more paved areas in a watershed, the more degraded its streams are likely to be, he said. Instead of escaping a degraded environment, people should be encouraged to stay and work to restore the streams and the forests and bring back the wildlife.
"You already have a nice infrastructure of water and sewer," Mr. Schueler said. "The real trick is how do you come up with a system that encourages people to develop there and reduce degradation."
State planners say Anne Arundel County, with about 4 percent of Maryland's land, suffered 10 percent of the state's forest loss from 1973 to 1990. The county lost nearly 30 square miles of forest and farmland.
The summit costs $20. For registration after May 26, the cost is $30. For more information, call (410) 741-0125.