Uses and landscape patterns: A study of relationships between human activities and spatial patterns of land use and land cover on private parcels in Monroe County, Indiana
There is a need for landscape ecological analyses that focus on relationships between land and forest use decisions and forest ecosystem functions at the parcel level in order to better manage resources. This research addresses this need thorough a case study of Monroe County, Indiana. It explores whether landowners who make decisions based on discrete partitions in the landscape affect spatial patterns of land use and land cover on parcels and whether socioeconomic partitions in the landscape result in discrete land cover edges. Specific socioeconomic data, including the types of land and forest uses that occur on privately owned parcels, are identified based on landowner responses to interview questions. Techniques from geographical information science and remote sensing are used to create a map of land use and land cover from which metrics of the spatial patterns on the parcels are calculated. The metrics indicate the degree of forest fragmentation on each parcel and the likely resilience of forest ecosystems. Relationships between differences in land and forest uses, factors affecting land use decisions, and several landscape metrics are explored by using statistical tests. The results indicate that processes related to parcel-level land and forest use decisions significantly affect the spatial patterns of the landscape. Differences in human land and forest uses, including uses that have occurred in the past, correspond to differences in the spatial patterns on private parcels. The largest differences in patterns are between parcels that are used for agricultural land uses and parcels on which forests are used for aesthetics, buffering, and hiking. Models that include variables related to land and forest use decisions perform better than models that include only measures of population density, slope, and accessibility. The results imply that ecosystem management programs that aim to control land and forest use decisions through policies such as zoning may impact the health and resilience of forest ecosystems. However, participatory programs that offer benefits that are targeted to specific types of landowners and operate at local levels may encourage individuals to cooperate in forest management and be more effective than zoning regulations.
0768: Environmental science
0617: Public administration