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Land use change analysis for two counties in Massachusetts, United States

Christine T Fahl, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Habitat loss is one of the most serious threats to biodiversity today. A host of natural and human activities, including fire, agriculture, and resource extraction can have profound impacts on the transformation of native habitats. In the Northeast, habitat loss occurs primarily from land use changes from small to mid-scale residential development. Essential to maintaining biological diversity in the Northeast is the protection of important conservation areas from destructive land-use change, especially residential development. In order to maintain biodiversity, communities must set aside vulnerable open space and areas of native habitats. To aid in this it is necessary to predict the vulnerability of areas of conservation interest to development. Through an analysis of land use change, a predictive model can be developed to be used as a tool in the selection and management of conservation areas. An historical land use change analysis was conducted for two counties in Massachusetts, USA. Through logistic regression modeling the variables that best predicted land use change were determined. The most influential land use change variable was found to be the initial land use of the site. The density of buildings in the surrounding area was also found to be a significant predictor. A sensitivity analysis of the logistic regressions showed that these two variables were robust predictors of land use change. Transition analysis was used to further understand the processes of land use change for the two counties. It was found that the transition systems for both areas was not stable over time, which indicates that the mechanisms influencing land use change over time. Transition sensitivity analysis indicates that relatively few of the transitions were sensitive to perbutations of the system. This work will help to better understand land use change in New England. With better understanding of land use change, planners and land managers can make better informed decisions about land acquisition, protection and management to help conserve biodiversity throughout the region.

Subject Area

Forestry|Urban planning|Area planning & development|Geography

Recommended Citation

Fahl, Christine T, "Land use change analysis for two counties in Massachusetts, United States" (2004). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3152693.