Land-use and -cover change is a topic of increasing concern as interest in forest and agricultural land preservation grows. Urban and residential land use is quickly replacing extractive land use in southern Indiana. The interaction between land quality and urban growth pressures is also causing secondary forest growth and forest clearing to occur jointly in a complex spatial pattern. It is argued that similar processes fuel the abandonment of agricultural land leading to private forest regrowth, changes in topography and land quality, and declining real farm product prices. However, the impact of urban growth and development on forests depends more strongly on changes in both the residential housing and labor markets. Using location quotient analysis of aggregate employment patterns, and the relationship between regional labor market changes, the extent of private forest cover was examined from 1967 to 1998. Then an econometric model of land-use shares in forty southern Indiana counties was developed based on the net benefits to agriculture, forestland, and urban uses. To test the need to control explicitly for changes in residential demand and regional economic structure, a series of nested models was estimated. Some evidence was found that changing agricultural profitability is leading to private forest regrowth. It was also uncovered that the ratio of urban to forest land uses is better explained by incorporating measures of residential land value and industrial concentration than simply considering population density alone.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Global and Planetary Change