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Introduction

The University of Central Florida (UCF) is a large, public research university that opened with a student body population of 1,948 students in 1968. As of this writing 59,785 students attend UCF (Institutional Knowledge Management). In the last five decades UCF has changed its land use significantly. From 1,227 acres in 1968, UCF has expanded to encompass a current total of 1,415 acres. Students, faculty, staff, and visitors of the university enjoy numerous on-campus amenities, including convenient transportation, state-of-the-art buildings, manicured landscapes, natural lands, as well as an abundance of surrounding community support facilities, such as restaurants, hotels, and care centers, to meet the needs of people traveling to and from UCF. The university attracts people from around the globe to pursue their educations and careers by offering a diverse environment with opportunities in many different fields. UCF has developed its lands to keep pace with its growth as necessary to fulfill its mission of providing students with an outstanding academic environment.

In the last fifty years, UCF has developed its built infrastructure to accommodate a growing number of students, curriculum, and research interests. This growth, however, has required land-use changes that contribute to biodiversity loss (Rosenberg et al., 1997). UCF is surrounded by diverse habitats, including pine flat woods, sand pine scrub, cypress domes, and wetlands. It is unique compared to other state universities based on the richness of plant and animal diversity found within its natural lands. UCF's role in regional and metropolitan economic growth has been, and continues to be, a significant focus for policy makers and urban planners. However, this policy focus has negatively impacted environmental priorities, making it difficult to reduce or repair habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, and species isolation.

UCF provides habitat for some of Florida's most endangered and threatened species. Sandhill cranes are commonly seen on campus. Much of their native habitat has been rapidly developed by humans (Living with Sandhill Cranes). Gopher tortoises burrow deep under the sandy soil, which provides a stable micro-climate for other species exploring the shrubby lands of the arboretum. Wood storks and sand skinks shy away from urban areas and associated activity, but can be found seeking refuge in the UCF Natural Lands. According to Becker (2011), habitat loss is a primary factor contributing to species loss in Florida and has become a global issue.

This research investigates the institutional commitment and challenges to conservation vital to the future of these species. In my research, I use UCF's Final Campus Master Plan (UCFCMP) to measure and describe priorities through administrative semantic behavior and compare this behavior against the stated conservation goals of the University. This paper proceeds as follows. First, I explain the stated conservation goals as published by UCF's administration in relation to two important theories of the social causes of environmental change. Second, I explain the method and approach of this study, which employs a grounded content analysis of the UCFCMP as a representative document for the on-theground development plans of UCF. Finally, the findings of this study are discussed, and recommendations for the future explored. The goals, policies, and objectives of other elements of the UCFCMP that conflict with the Conservation Element are included in the findings.

Stated Conservation Goals and Theories of Social Environmental Change >>