Quantifying the ecological footprint of suburban/exurban land use change.
Lathrop, Richard *,1, Hasse, John2, 1 Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA2 Rowan University, Glassboro, New Jersey, USA
ABSTRACT- Sprawling urban growth is rapidly transforming metropolitan regions across the United States. As the most densely populated state in the nation, New Jersey provides an excellent case study on the application of environmental indicators as a means of characterizing land use/land cover change (LU/LCC). A series of land resource impact (LRI) indicators were developed as a tool for identifying localities (e.g., municipalities) where the least efficient and most highly impacting forms of urban growth were occurring. The indicators include; (1) density of urbanization; (2) loss of prime farmland; (3) loss of natural wetlands; (4) loss of core forest habitat; and (5) increase of impervious surface. We apply New Jersey's recently updated LU/LCC digital database to compare change in the 1995-2000 time vs. 1986-1995 time periods. A more refined set of indicators were developed by integrating landscape change metrics with demographic change data to produce percent and per capita indicators of critical landscape impacts associated with urban sprawl at a municipal level. The results indicate that localities on the rural-suburban fringe undergoing low-density, exurban patterns of growth are continuing to produce significantly greater landscape impacts on a per capita basis than rapidly growing higher density localities more often associated with urban sprawl.
Key words: habitat loss, remote sensing, urban sprawl, land use/land cover change
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