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Loss of Open Space

Open space is being lost at an alarming rate -- almost 6,000 acres of open space are converted to developed uses every day.  Forests are affected by three interrelated patterns that lead to the loss of open space: conversion, fragmentation, and parcelization. When we lose open space, we lose the valuable services landscapes provide including clean air and water, flood control, recreation opportunities, and wildlife habitat, to name a few.

Check out some examples of how loss of open space across the country is affecting the landscape and communities by clicking on the stars below. You can also view projected changes in urban land use patterns.


Anchorage, Alaska

Sturgis, South Dakota

Odgen, Utah

Waldport, Oregon

Poplar Bluff, Missouri

North Conway, New Hampshire

Salt Springs, Florida

Flagstaff, Arizona

Azusa, California

Lake Tahoe Area

Chicago, Illinois

Atlanta, Georgia

Baltimore, Maryland


Big Sky, Montana

Virginia, Minnesota

Richmond, Virginia

Peachtree, Georgia




What is open space?
Open space includes natural areas such as forests and grasslands, as well
as working farms, ranches, and timberlands. Open space also includes parks,
stream and river corridors, and other natural areas within urban and
suburban areas.  Open space lands may be protected or unprotected, public
or private.

Conversion refers to the replacement of trees with houses, buildings,
lawns, and pavement.

Fragmentation refers to the disturbance zone beyond the footprint of the

Parcelization refers to the trend that forest properties are becoming
smaller and smaller, as larger lots are divided into separate ownerships.



Puerto Rico