Colorado mountains

Comparing 25 years of land cover and population change in the southern Appalachians

Poster Number: 
Presenter/Primary Author: 
Jeff Hepinstall-C...
Katharine Servidio
Natalie Stone

Substantial population growth has been observed over the past 30 years in the Southern Appalachians. The desirable combination of aesthetics, climate, and proximity to recreation likely fuel this growth. As population densities increase and land cover is affected, the already climatically stressed water resources of the Southeast will be further reduced.  We evaluated land cover change for the region from 1991, 2001, and 2006 and compared this with county-level population data from 1990, 2000, and 2010 census data.  If past trends continue, the Southern Appalachians can expect to experience continued losses of forest cover potentially resulting in further strain on local water resources. Currently, we are developing a 2011 land cover map and are collaborating with other CWT personnel to explore socioeconomic drivers of land use change to build a more complete understanding of the processes behind observed land cover change.

Background Photo by: Nicole Hansen - Jornada (JRN) LTER