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Harvard Forest REU Symposium Abstract 2019

  • Title: How land cover change analyses assist in conservation to reach the Wildlands and Woodlands vision
  • Author: Mattea Powers (Plymouth State University)
  • Abstract:

    The Wildlands and Woodlands (W&W) vision is to protect 70% of land as forests and 7% as farmlands in New England by 2060. The best way the vision can be achieved is through collaboration among conservationists, regional planners, government agencies and private landowners. This summer’s research was focused on the Pioneer Valley (PV) of Massachusetts where our partner land trust seeks to create a conservation partnership and downscale the W&W vision to a three-county region. Using GIS, I sought to provide a context for this effort by examining land cover changes in the region from 2001 to 2016 and quantify how new development intersects with prime agricultural soils and state-defined Core Habitat and Critical Natural Landscapes. The results were presented to land trusts and planners for the Valley, sparking conversations regarding the regional extent of conversion of forested and agricultural land to development. One graph showed that in Kestrel Land Trust’s 19-town sub-region, 993 acres that were previously forest in 2001 are now developed with residential subdivision patterns, and of those 993 acres, 655 acres were developed on prime agricultural soils. This analysis can assist conservationists on where development should be located in the future and how to avoid compromising productive prime soils for farmland with development.

  • Research Category: Regional Studies; Group Projects; Conservation and Management