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Morgan Jenkins

Environmental Issues
Lab 1: Investigating Changes in Land Use and Population Dynamics

Changes in land use throughout the United States have economic, social, and
environmental impacts. In this lab the focus is directed towards environmental
impacts, which can be easily overlooked and go unnoticed to the average person,
but have the potential to seriously impact their local environment. Many people
outside the environmental field can get upset when a forest is clear cut to make
room for a shopping center, but besides aesthetics, how many of them understand
the effects that go beyond that? For example, they may not realize how the increase
of impermeable surfaces can redirect the flow of water and effect the watershed or
the potential for soil erosion to sites in proximity.
Over the past 25 years New Jersey has experienced a large amount of land
use change. If you have ever stayed in one place for an extended period of time it is
highly likely you have witnessed this never ending development first hand.
Everything from infrastructure changes to housing developments are being updated
or clearing out forests and open land to make room for the increasing New Jersey
population. Between 2000 and 2009 there was a boom in redevelopment, where
204 municipalities at ninety percent build capacity made up thirty percent of
residential building permits statewide (Kasabach). This will undoubtedly have
significant environmental impacts, but the state is trying to expand with low impact
in mind. There has been a push for an end to low-density, land-consumptive, cardependent, sprawling development patterns, pressing for a shift in development

investment toward the states already-built places places where transit and other
infrastructure already existed, where buildings and land had already been
developed and could be redeveloped, and where growth could occur without
jeopardizing the states remaining farmland and open space (Kasabach). By
developing existing developments in a smarter way New Jersey is able to prosper
and reduce the negative effects of development. This strategy has allowed
approximately thirty percent (200,000 acres) of farmland to be permanently
preserved with the help of local, state, and non-profit programs (Kasabach).
Typically, when land use changes to fit the needs of the local people, and
population increases there will be a negative effect on the environment. Best
management practices are used a guideline for development, but sometimes they
are not enough to limit harsh side effects. It is entirely possible to develop in a way
that is environmentally friendly and potentially positive, but it often comes at the
cost of social and economic sacrifices that just arent feasible in real world
situations. There is definitely room for improvement, but the needs of society tend
to take precedence over environmental impacts. Unfortunately, that means
development is mostly done to meet all the goals of the project, and then whatever
environmental engineering can be used to best manage the impacts the new
development will have will be put into place. This is not to say that there arent laws
and building codes that must be followed and do help things from getting
completely out of control, but they still leave much to be desired when it comes to
the negative impacts development can have on our ecosystems. Besides the
development itself, an increase in population density means more people which in

turn causes more litter, more pollution, and a general decrease in environmental
When we observe trends in land use and population changes on a global
scale, you tend to see the very same changes that you see on a national and state
level as well. Populations are increasing daily and we are trying to find a way to
sustain everyone. An article in Science magazine describes the situation:
Worldwide changes to forests, farmlands, waterways, and air are being driven
by the need to provide food, fiber, water, and shelter to more than six billion
people. Global croplands, pastures, plantations, and urban areas have
expanded in recent decades, accompanied by large increases in energy,
water, and fertilizer consumption, along with considerable losses of
biodiversity. Such changes in land use have enabled humans to appropriate
an increasing share of the planet's resources, but they also potentially
undermine the capacity of ecosystems to sustain food production, maintain
freshwater and forest resources, regulate climate and air quality, and
ameliorate infectious diseases (Foley).
When you look at land development and population changes the most obvious
environmental impacts are in the form of water and air pollution, and the loss of
ecosystem services. Rather you have an agricultural area or an urban area water
pollution is inevitable, its just different.
Agricultural use results in an increase of nutrients in stream water both from
the excretion products of farm animals and from commercial fertilizers. A
change from agricultural use to residential use, as in urbanization, tends to
reduce these types of nutrients, but this tendency is counteracted by the
widely scattered pollutants of the city, such as oil and gasoline products,
which are carried through the storm sewers to the streams (Leopold).
The most obvious change and the one that the average person takes seriously is air
quality and atmospheric changes. At this point global warming is undeniable and
due largely to development both industrial and agricultural. A studying using GIS to
analyze air pollution patterns in urban landscapes found show that the spatial
patterns of air pollutants probed were positively correlated with urban built-up

density, and with satellite derived land surface temperature values, particularly with
measurements taken during the summer (Weng). The last factor, and one that is
often overlooked by people outside of environmental studies is the impact land use
changes and population increases have on ecosystem services. Terrestrial
ecosystems provide a number of vital services for people and society, such as
biodiversity, food, fiber, water resources, carbon sequestration, and recreation (M.J.
Metzger). When land use is changed you often trade these services for socioeconomic needs of the local population.
In this study data was taken from the National Land Cover Database and the
US Census Bureau to analyze land use change and population change in Passaic
county, New Jersey. ArcMap and Microsoft Excel were used to analyze the data by
creating maps and tables. By doing so it is possible to recognize trends within the
county and get a visual representation of the correlation between the two factors.
The National Land Cover Database was used in the creation of five: Land use
in 1992, 2001, 2006, and 2011, and Land use changes between 1992-2001, all
within Passaic county. The US Census Bureau data was used to analyze population
changes between 1992-2001, 2001-2006, and 2006-2010.
Results and Discussion
Looking at the graphs and maps you recognize two important things. The first
is that as with the rest of the world the population is on an increase overall. There
was a brief unexplained period between 2003 and 2007 where the population where
the population decreased by approximately 1000 people, but by July 1, 2008 the
population had made a full recovery and actually increased by 1000 people

compared to its dip in 2003. After that the upward trend continued. Passaic county
population had an average annual increase of 1664 people. The largest dip occurred
between 2002 and 2003 where the population decreased by 934 people, and the
largest increase occurred between 2009 and 2010 with 5,585 people.

After observing population data, you can see how land use slowly changes
from undeveloped and natural lands to developed lands between 1990-2010.

Notice how in the early years changes are only from urban to forest and vice
versa, but as time goes on you begin to see development shift from open to
medium intensity and forested to developed medium intensity. The largest
population increase over the last 5 years is particularly important where you can
see already developed lands being developed further.
As discussed earlier, with all this development there is bound to be negative
environmental impacts on the local community. Medium intensity development and
a population increase of 33,275 people over twenty years creates a lot of
opportunities for environmental damage. More people means more cars and litter
which means more air and water pollution. Clearing out the forests to make room
for this development also means a loss of ecosystem services. It is important to
note that all of the development was for urbanization and not agriculture which will
have different environmental impacts. With urbanization we will see air pollution in
the form of car exhaust fumes and industrial outputs. Water pollution will be in the
form of oil, litter, and sewage getting into rivers via storm drains and sewer system
management. This loss of forest will take away from outdoor recreation as well as
carbon sequestration and maybe have serious impacts on the watershed. You can
see from the following maps how land use changed from 1992-2011.

It is very easy to see between 1992 and 2001 how there is a loss of forests,
mixed in particular, in the north-western region of the county. From 1992-2011, in
the central and south-eastern regions, you can see the intensity changes in
development as well as where developed land turned into developed, open land
(which is likely part of the NJ redevelopment).
Overall, New Jersey suffers from the same problems as most places.
Development is happening all over in an attempt to keep up with the ever
increasing population. The redevelopment plan New Jersey has used in the past will
go a long way in preserving overall ecosystem quality and reduce environmental
impact, but there is room for improvement and reduction of impact if participants
are willing to sacrifice more for the good of their local environments. Population
growth is inevitable without questionable moral practices so it is the responsibility
of New Jersey residents, scientists, developers, and government to all do their fair
share in maintaining sustainable and ecofriendly environmental practices when
implanting ideas to deal with socio-economic pressure. As more land becomes
developed in the future and population continues to increase it will be instrumental
for the good of everyone to maximize efficiency in agriculture and urban regions in
order to maintain bio-diversity and sustainability in undeveloped land.

Works Cited

Foley, Jonathan A. "Global Consequences of Land Use." Science (2005): 570-574.

Homer, C.G., Dewitz, J.A., Yang, L., Jin, S., Danielson, P., Xian, G., Coulston, J., Herold,
N.D., Wickham, J.D., and Megown, K., 2015, Completion of the 2011 National
Land Cover Database for the conterminous United States-Representing a
decade of land cover change information. Photogrammetric Engineering and
Remote Sensing, v. 81, no. 5, p. 345-354
Kasabach, Peter. 25 Years of Smart Growth in New Jersey. 8 November 2012.
Leopold, Luna B. "Hydrology for Urban Land Planning - A Guidebook on the
Hydrologic Effects of Urban Land Use." Geological Survey Circular (1968).
M.J. Metzger, M.D.A. Rounsevellb, L. Acosta-Michlikb, R. Leemansc, D. Schrterd.
"The vulnerability of ecosystem services to land use change." Agriculture,
Ecosystems & Environment (2006): 69-85.
United States Census Bureau. 20 December 2012. 9 October 2016.
Weng, Qihao. "Urban Air Pollution Patterns, Land Use, and Thermal Landscape: An
Examination of the Linkage Using GIS." Environmental Monitoring ans
Assessment (2006): 463-489.