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Running Head: LAND USE OVER TIME IN GLOUCESTER COUNTY, NEW JERSEY 1

Lab 3: Land Use Over Time in Gloucester County, New Jersey

Steve Morrone and Justine Smith

ENVL 4300 - Environmental Issues

Dr. Chirenje

Stockton University
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Abstract

Land use over time in Gloucester County, New Jersey was observed and any significant

trends in change were identified. Land use data collected from the years 1986, 1995, 2002, 2007,

and 2012 were displayed as maps, tables and graphs. A significant increase in urbanized areas of

10,313 acres was seen along with a decrease in agricultural areas of 8,768 acres. A breakdown of

urbanized growth showed most of the urban increase was attributed to residential development.

A trend was observed where agricultural areas were being replaced by these residential

developments. In towns like Mullica Hill and Sewell this trend can be observed directly through

land use maps as well as orthographic images. This increase of residential areas can most likely

be explained by the close proximity of Philadelphia and the need for more affordable and local

housing. Recent census data for Philadelphia showed a decrease in population while surrounding

counties, especially Gloucester County, have been exhibiting an increase in population.


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Table of Contents

Abstract​…………………………………………………………………………………………...2

Introduction​………………………………………………………………………………………4

Objective​…………………………………………………………………………………………. 4

Methods​…………………………………………………………………………………………...5

Data Collection​………………………………………………………………………………. 5

Map and Table Creation​……………………………………………………………………..

Results​……………………………………………………………………………………………. 7

Discussion and Conclusion​…………………………………………………………………….. 16

References​……………………………………………………………………………………….19

Appendix​………………………………………………………………………………………...21
LAND USE OVER TIME IN GLOUCESTER COUNTY, NEW JERSEY 4

Introduction

Land use change is the process by which natural habitats are altered to benefit human use,

such as the conversion of forests into residential areas, public roadways, or agricultural areas.

Monitoring these changes over time can help make future adjustments in land use planning, like

identifying areas in need of redevelopment, or preventing excessive habitat loss. For example,

increases in population may drive the need for more residential areas or for more food resources

through agriculture. Understanding of these changes can also be applied to other fields like

wildlife management: for example, behavioral change in the coyote species as an adaptation to

urbanized areas taking over their habitat. Effective land use management plans can be drafted to

solve these issues and create a balance between human satisfaction and ecosystem health.

Here, we will observe the changes in land use in Gloucester County, New Jersey and

identify any significant changes over a 26 year period from 1986 to 2012. The county is heavily

influenced by the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which has a population of roughly 1.6

million people and is approximately 20 miles from the center of Gloucester County. (U.S.

Census Bureau 2018). By creating maps with visual representations of urban, agricultural, forest,

wetlands, and other areas we hope to observe significant trends and trade-offs where the county

sacrificed one form of land use for another. From this data, speculations can be made as to why

certain areas grew while others decreased; perhaps in favor of whichever change had the most

cost benefit.
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Objective

To gain experience in location and downloading data pertaining to Digital Orthophoto

Quadrangles, watershed land use maps and performing analysis on data within ArcMap GIS and

Microsoft Excel. To create tables and bar graphs showing comparisons of land use changes

within Gloucester county, New Jersey from the years 1986 to 2012. Any noticeable trends will

be broken down for further investigation and analysis. Rationalization for changes will be

discussed and supported with created maps and figures.

Methods

Data Collection

We collected land use data for Gloucester County, New Jersey from the NJDEP Bureau

of GIS website. We downloaded the shapefiles for the 3 watersheds that cover Gloucester

County: the Great Egg Harbor watershed, the Maurice, Salem, Cohansey watershed, and the

Lower Delaware watershed. This data was obtained for the 5 most recent surveys: 1986, 1995,

2002, 2007, and 2012. We collected satellite image data for Sewell, New Jersey from the NJ

Geographic Information Network website. These images were from 1995, 2002, 2007, 2012, and

2015. We collected municipality boundary data from the NJDEP Bureau of GIS website. We

also collected road data for New Jersey from the NJ Geographic Information Network website.

Map and Table Creation

The land use maps in figure 1 were created by merging the 3 watersheds from each year

into a single shapefile. That shapefile was then clipped to Gloucester County. The map was then

divided into 6 land use types: urban, agriculture, forest, water, wetlands, and barren land. We

used that map data to find the acreage of each land use type and compared those numbers for
LAND USE OVER TIME IN GLOUCESTER COUNTY, NEW JERSEY 6

years 2002 and 2012 (table 1). Table 2 was created by comparing the acreage changes for just the

agriculture, forest, and urban land use types across all five survey years. Figure 4 was created by

showing urban and agriculture land use in 1986 and 2012 as overlapping layers. Table 3 was

created by dividing the urban land use areas into 4 categories: public services, commercial areas,

residential areas, and other. Figure 6 shows that data as a land use map for years 1986, 2002, and

2012. Figures 7 and 8 show agriculture and urban land use within the municipalities of

Gloucester county in 1986 and 2012. The roads were added to provide additional location

context. Figure 9 shows the orthographic images of an area in Sewell, New Jersey from the years

1995, 2002, 2007, 2012, and 2015.


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Results

​ omparison of land use areas in Gloucester county over the years from 1986 to 2012.
Figure 1: C

Source:​ ​NJ DEP Bureau of GIS (1986, 2001, 2008, 2018, 2015, 2016a); New Jersey’s

Watersheds, Watershed Management Areas and Water Regions (2007).


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​ ummary of land use changes in Gloucester county between 2002 and 2012.
Table 1: S

Source:​ ​NJ DEP Bureau of GIS (1986, 2001, 2008, 2018, 2015, 2016a); New Jersey’s

Watersheds, Watershed Management Areas and Water Regions (2007).

Land Use Acres in 2002 Acres in 2012 Change


Agriculture 54045.95 45277.39 -8768.57
Barren Land 3147.75 3138.84 -8.91
Forest 51831.51 50212.77 -1618.74
Urban 66799.11 77112.14 10313.03
Water 10962.26 17551.97 6589.71
Wetlands 37578.01 37439.21 -138.80

Figure 2: ​Comparison of land use changes in Gloucester county between 2002 and 2012.

Source:​ ​NJ DEP Bureau of GIS (1986, 2001, 2008, 2018, 2015, 2016a); New Jersey’s

Watersheds, Watershed Management Areas and Water Regions (2007).


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Table 2​: Comparison of urban, agricultural, and forest land uses from 1986 to 2012.

Source:​ NJ DEP Bureau of GIS (1986, 2001, 2008, 2018, 2015, 2016a); New Jersey’s

Watersheds, Watershed Management Areas and Water Regions (2007).

Land Use Acres in 1986 Acres in 1995 Acres in 2002 Acres in 2007 Acres in 2012
Urban 54286 60645 66799 74718 77112
Agriculture 64340 65604 54046 47037 45277
Forest 50490 53977 51832 49821 50213

Figure 3:​ ​Comparison of land use changes in Gloucester county between 1986 and 2012.

Source:​ ​NJ DEP Bureau of GIS (1986, 2001, 2008, 2018, 2015, 2016a); New Jersey’s

Watersheds, Watershed Management Areas and Water Regions (2007).


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Figure 4:​ Changes in agricultural areas and urban areas between 1986 and 2012.

Source:​ ​NJ DEP Bureau of GIS (1986, 2001, 2008, 2018, 2015, 2016a); New Jersey’s

Watersheds, Watershed Management Areas and Water Regions (2007).


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Table 3​: Categories of urban land use in Gloucester County in 1986, 2002, and 2012.

Source:​ ​ ​NJ DEP Bureau of GIS (1986, 2001, 2008, 2018, 2015, 2016a); New Jersey’s

Watersheds, Watershed Management Areas and Water Regions (2007).

Land Use Acres in 1986 Acres in 2002 Acres in 2012


Public Services 5305.83 7085.00 8141.79
Commercial
Areas 7471.5 9148.84 10274.94
Other 4943.2 7026.37 8438.94
Residential Areas 36564.69 43538.89 50253.46

Figure 5:​ Changes in urban land use in Gloucester County in 1986, 2002, and 2012.

Source: ​ ​NJ DEP Bureau of GIS (1986, 2001, 2008, 2018, 2015, 2016a); New Jersey’s

Watersheds, Watershed Management Areas and Water Regions (2007).


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Figure 6:​ Changes in urban land use in Gloucester County in 1986, 2002, and 2012.

Source: ​ ​NJ DEP Bureau of GIS (1986, 2001, 2008, 2018, 2015, 2016a); New Jersey’s

Watersheds, Watershed Management Areas and Water Regions (2007).


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Figure 7:​ Land use changes in Mullica Hill, New Jersey.

Source: ​ NJGIN (2008); ​NJ DEP Bureau of GIS (1986, 2001, 2008, 2018, 2015, 2016a, 2016b);

New Jersey’s Watersheds, Watershed Management Areas and Water Regions (2007).
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Figure 8:​ Land use changes in Sewell, New Jersey.

Source: ​ NJGIN (2008); ​NJ DEP Bureau of GIS (1986, 2001, 2008, 2018, 2015, 2016a, 2016b);

New Jersey’s Watersheds, Watershed Management Areas and Water Regions (2007).
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Figure 9: ​Digital Orthophoto Quadrangle (DOQ) of Sewell, NJ in Gloucester county comparing

land use changes from 1995 to 2015.

Source:​ ​NJGIN (2019).


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Discussion and Conclusion

Based on the acreage data from 2002 to 2012, the largest loss was in agricultural land

followed by forested land. Agriculture areas lost 8,768 acres and forests lost 1,618 acres for a

combined 10,386 acres. This loss almost exactly mirrors the gain in urban area, which was

10,313 acres. We decide to more closely examine these changes since they were the most

significant.

By examining the changes since 1986 (figure 3), we saw that forests had very little

change in area overall. This is in contrast to statewide surveys which showed that forests have

been suffering the most losses to urban development throughout New Jersey (Kaplan and

Lathrop, 2004). Agriculture showed a trend of loss at each interval starting in 1995. There was a

slight gain before that between 1986 and 1995. That trend slowed between 2007 and 2012.

Urban development showed a steady increase since 1986. Like agriculture, that trend slowed

between 2007 and 2012. The similarity between the rate of loss of agriculture and the rate of gain

in urban land suggests that rural land is being replaced by urban areas. This is exemplified in

figure 4 where the lost agricultural land in the highlighted area is almost exactly the same as the

gained urban area. These slowing trends match data collected by the NJDEP, who noted, “Given

the widespread effects of the Recession on the state’s economy, job growth and housing market,

it is not unexpected that the rate of new urban development slowed during the T4 (‘07-‘12) time

period” (Bognar, Hasse, and Lathrop, 2016).

We examined the types of urban development that were occurring most often and found

that residential development is the most pervasive (figure 6). It makes up the majority of urban

areas in Gloucester county and also shows the highest increase in area from 1986 to 2012. Figure
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6 shows the expansion of urban sprawl emanating from the Philadelphia area at the northern end

of the County. Figure 6 also shows the same areas highlighted as in figure 4. This area is the

town of Mullica Hill. Figure 7 shows a closer view of the Mullica Hill area. In 2001 a similar

observation was made from observing changes from 1986 to 1995, “Soaring land values and

operating costs coupled with multiple conflicts stemming from the incompatibility of farming

with new residences make it difficult to farm successfully in New Jersey” (Adelaja and Schilling,

1999).

Figures 7 and 8 show these land use changes on a local level. The town of Mullica Hill,

NJ (figure 7) was mostly rural in 1986 and had been converted to a majority urban area by 2012.

Sewell, NJ (figure 8) had its last areas of farmland converted into suburban lands as well,

continuing the trend of urban sprawl seen throughout the county. The photos in figure 9 show an

example of farmland in Sewell, NJ being replaced with residential urban development. The

farms in the upper right and upper left of the 1995 image were replaced by suburban

neighborhoods in 2002. Another farm in the bottom right of the 1995 image was replaced by a

golf course in 2002.

Much of the residential growth can be related to the short distance from the influential

city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. We believe the constant draw of employment and limited

residential areas force people to look for a more local and affordable place to live. In 1980,

Philadelphia had a population of 1.7 million people, but has decreased to 1.5 million people in

2012 (World Population Review, 2019). This decrease can likely be attributed to people leaving

the city to live in more favorable urban areas, like Mullica Hill and Sewell. While the city’s

population is declining, the surround counties’ populations have been increasing, and one study
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predicts that Gloucester County will be one of the counties with the highest population increases

through 2020 (Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, 2019).


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References

Adelaja, A. O. & Schilling, B. J. (1999). Innovative approaches to farmland preservation.

Contested Countryside: the Rural Urban Fringe in North America., 113-135.

Bognar, J., Hasse, J., & Lathrop, R. (2016). Changing Landscapes in the Garden State: Land Use

Changes in NJ 1986 thru 2012. Rutgers University.

Kaplan, M. B. & Lathrop, R. (2004). New Jersey land use/land cover update: 2000–2001. New

Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

New Jersey’s Watersheds, Watershed Management Areas and Water Regions. (2007).

https://www.state.nj.us/dep/seeds/docs/watersheds.pdf. January 31, 2019.

NJ DEP Bureau of GIS (2008). 2002 Land Use/Land Cover by Watershed Management Area

(WMA). https://www.nj.gov/dep/gis/lulc02cshp.html. January 31, 2019.

NJ DEP Bureau of GIS. (1986). 1986 Land Use/Land Cover.

https://www.nj.gov/dep/gis/lulcshp.html. January 31, 2019.

NJ DEP Bureau of GIS. (2001). 1995/97 Land Use/Land Cover by Watershed Management Area

(WMA). https://www.nj.gov/dep/gis/lulc95shp.html. January 31, 2019.

NJ DEP Bureau of GIS. (2010). NJDEP 2007 Land Use/Land Cover Update (7/19/10).

https://www.nj.gov/dep/gis/lulc07cshp.html. January 31, 2019.

NJ DEP Bureau of GIS. (2015). NJDEP 2012 Land Use/Land Cover Update 2/7/15.

https://www.nj.gov/dep/gis/lulc12c.html. January 31, 2019.

NJ DEP Bureau of GIS. (2016a). New Jersey Counties [Data file].

https://gisdata-njdep.opendata.arcgis.com/datasets/newjersey::new-jersey-counties.

January 31, 2019.


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NJ DEP Bureau of GIS. (2016b). New Jersey Municipalities [Data file].

https://gisdatanjdep.opendata.arcgis.com/datasets/newjersey::new-jersey-municipalities.

February 6, 2019.

NJGIN. (2008). https://njgin.state.nj.us/NJ_NJGINExplorer/DataDownloads.jsp. February 6,

2019.

NJGIN. (2019). https://njgin.state.nj.us/OGIS_IW/. January 31, 2019.

Philadelphia Cultural Alliance. (2019). Demographic trends and forecasts in the Philadelphia

region key findings.

https://www.philaculture.org/research/reports/demographic-trends-forecasts-philadelphia-

region/key-findings. February 8, 2019.

U.S. Census Bureau. (2018). https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/philadelphiacitypennsylvania.

February 8, 2019.

World Population Review. 2019.

http://worldpopulationreview.com/us-cities/philadelphia-population/. February 8, 2019.


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Appendix

Figure 1​: Land use changes in urban, agriculture, and forest from 1986 to 2012.

Source​: ​NJ DEP Bureau of GIS (1986, 2001, 2008, 2018, 2015, 2016a); New Jersey’s

Watersheds, Watershed Management Areas and Water Regions (2007).