Just before the UF/IFAS Center for Land Use Efficiency’s first in-person Future Urban Landscapes meeting since 2019, the headlines reported that Florida is the nation’s fastest growing state and had added more than 1,000 people a day in the past year.
If the Center’s mission weren’t already urgent enough, the news helped focus the meeting on the challenge that CLUE was formed to address: How do we accommodate millions more people on the same amount of land and with limited water resources?
That’s not a single specialist’s job. But specialists are what we start with. We differ from one another by department, discipline, and geography. When I sat with CLUE affiliate Bryan Unruh at the end of the first day of the meeting, he even talked about the arbitrary lines we draw to carve Florida into regions for the purpose of soil testing.
And that’s just us in academia. CLUE faculty member Basil Iannone spoke at the meeting of the other numerous and sundry players who influence what our yards look like: homeowners, HOAs, government agencies, trade associations, non-profit organizations, businesses and more.
CLUE assembles researchers and Extension faculty with the multidisciplinary expertise needed to address the complexity of creating a more sustainable future. Its diverse affiliate faculty unite around the state to collaborate on publishing papers, seeking grants, securing personnel, and generating educational resources. Throughout the year the Center also interfaces with the agencies and industry for reality checks that keep scientists’ work relevant. It’s a bridge from academia to the real world.
I encourage you to look at the CLUE annual report. You’ll find in these pages example after example of ways the Center brought together scientists and other players in the lawn-and-landscape-focused community as well as the agricultural industry to try to improve not just present-day Florida but how to make life better for millions more future Floridians.
Scott Angle is the University of Florida’s Senior Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources and leader of the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS).