Environmental Management

, Volume 35, Issue 3, pp 278–291

Modeling the Ecological Consequences of Land-Use Policies in an Urbanizing Region

  • Tenley M. Conway
  • Richard G. LathropJr.


Insight into future land use and effective ways to control land-use change is crucial to addressing environmental change. A variety of growth-control policies have been adopted by municipal and regional governments within the United States to try to minimize the ecological impact of continued urbanization, but it is often unclear if those policies can meet the stated ecological goals. Land-use-change models provide a way to generate predictions of future change, while exploring the impact of different land-use policies before irreversible transformations occur. In this article, an approach to modeling land-use policies that focuses on their ecological consequences is described. The policy simulation approach was used to predict future land use in the Barnegat Bay and Mullica River watersheds, in southeastern New Jersey, USA. Four commonly used policies were considered: down-zoning, cluster development, wetlands/water buffers, and open space protection. The results of the analysis suggest that none of the policies modeled were able to alter future land-use patterns, raising questions about the effectiveness of commonly adopted land-use policies. However, the policy modeling approach used in this study proved to be a useful way to determine if adoption of a given policy could improve the likelihood of meeting ecological goals.


Landscape change Land use Modeling Land-use policies New Jersey 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tenley M. Conway
    • 1
  • Richard G. LathropJr.
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of Toronto at MississaugaMississaugaCanada
  2. 2.Center for Remote Sensing and Spatial AnalysisCook CollegeRutgers UniversityNew BrunswickUSA

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