Land Cover Transitions and Forest Spatial Patterns within Four Developing Oregon Communities

Michael G. Wing, Kevin Brown, Derek C. Godwin, Paul D. Ries, Robert Emanuel

Abstract


We examined land cover transitions and forest spatial patterns within four developing communities in Oregon. Our primary objectives were to quantify land cover change and resulting spatial patterns of forested areas during a time of recent rapid development (1994-2005). A secondary objective was to identify the most prevalent land cover categories resulting from transitions with an emphasis on forest cover. We found emergent patterns in land cover transitions. For three communities, the only appreciable gains in land cover area in 2005 were within developed land cover types. Developed low intensity land cover was prevalent, being either the largest or second largest land cover category for 1994 or 2005 in all communities. Developed medium intensity land cover increased in three communities in 2005, with large increases (17.4%) in land area occurring within one of the communities. Developed high intensity also increased within all four communities in 2005. Forest cover decreased in all four communities, with one community having over a third of the forest cover area being replaced by other land cover types. Forest spatial patterns in all four communities changed across time. Three of the communities experienced increases in areas exhibiting patch forest patterns, which represented the most fragmented forest areas. The community that experienced the greatest increase in developed land cover also had the largest increase in patch forest area. Our findings suggest that not only is forest often replaced as developed land cover increases, but that the spatial patterns of forests are also impacted, often by increased fragmentation.

 


Keywords


Land Use; Development; Forest Fragmentation

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