Landscape Assessment

Forested lands near urban, suburban, rural, and agricultural lands have been the primary source of land for development in recent years. The most significant trend affecting forests is the conversion to residential, commercial, industrial, and infrastructure uses. Although forestry, agriculture, grazing, and developed uses all compete for a fixed amount of land, forests have been most affected. One million acres of forests have been lost to development annually from 1992 to 1997. Another 26 million acres could be lost by 2030 (Alig and Plantinga 2004). This trend will increasingly affect our ability to provide adequate ecological protection, ecosystem services, and other open space benefits in future years.

Increased human populations adjacent to and in to forested lands poses a threat to wildlands: increased likelihood for the following threats: wildfire will affect lives and property; increased fire starts that will carry into wildlands; invasive species incursions into wildlands; loss in connectivity for wildlife and between suitable habitat for threatened species; increased contamination of streams; increased potential for genetically modified crops that can contaminate related native species; and decrease in quantity and quality of ecosystem services (multiple benefits provided by ecosystems to humans) we depend on in wildlands.

Our program, the Western Wildlands Environmental Threats Assessment Center, supports reviews to identify gaps in knowledge, research to fill knowledge gaps, synthesize research and information, model effects and interactions, conduct vulnerability assessments, develop assessment tools, and communicate information to land and resource managers on threats to western landscapes.

 

Current WWETAC Landscape Assessment Projects

Past WWETAC Landscape Assessment Projects

Alig, R.J.; Plantinga, A. 2004. Future forestland area: impacts from population growth and other factors that affect land values. Journal of Forestry. 102(8): 19-24.