, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 37-53

Land changes and their driving forces in the Southeastern United States

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Abstract

The ecoregions of the Middle Atlantic Coastal Plain, Southeastern Plains, Piedmont, and Blue Ridge provide a continuum of land cover from the Atlantic Ocean to the highest mountains in the East. From 1973 to 2000, each ecoregion had a unique mosaic of land covers and land cover changes. The forests of the Blue Ridge Mountains provided amenity lands. The Piedmont forested area declined, while the developed area increased. The Southeastern Plains became a commercial forest region, and most agricultural lands that changed became forested. Forests in the Middle Atlantic Coastal Plain declined, and development related to recreation and retirement increased. The most important drivers of land conversion were associated with commercial forestry, competition between forest and agriculture, and economic and population growth. These and other drivers were modified by each ecoregion’s unique suitability and land use legacies with the result that the same drivers often produced different land changes in different ecoregions.