Land Cover Analysis for Urban Foresters and Municipal Planners: Examples from Iowa
Contemporary land-use change and impacts on natural systems are of concern throughout the Cornbelt region, where agricultural activities have extensively altered the landscape. Land-use changes driven by urbanization throughout this region could have a disproportionate impact on remaining natural areas, particularly forests. We used readily available data sets and software to assess land cover change for four municipalities in Iowa and to examine the usefulness of this approach for urban foresters and planners interested in understanding/predicting impacts of land cover change. Urban land cover increased by 28‐80% in the communities we examined, primarily because of transitions from grassland and cropland. Although net increases in forest cover occurred in three study areas, significant losses of mature forest cover were masked by transitions of grassland and wetland to early successional forests and by canopy closure within urban land cover types. These analyses could be useful to inform land-use change decisionmaking.
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