A Dynamic Spatial Socioeconomic and Ecological Landscape Model to Assess Environmental Impacts of Forest Change on the Southern Cumberland Plateau of Tennessee

EPA Grant Number: R829802
Title: A Dynamic Spatial Socioeconomic and Ecological Landscape Model to Assess Environmental Impacts of Forest Change on the Southern Cumberland Plateau of Tennessee
Investigators: Gottfried, Robert , Haskell, David , Williams, Douglass , Evans, Jonathan
Institution: University of the South
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: September 1, 2002 through August 31, 2005 (Extended to August 31, 2006)
Project Amount: $248,265
RFA: Futures: Research in Socio-Economics (2001) RFA Text
Research Category: Environmental Justice


Using remote sensing and GIS technology our recently completed Small Area Forest Assessment Demonstration Project (SAAFDP) mapped and quantified changes in land use/land cover (LULC) for 1981-2000 for the southern Cumberland Plateau and assessed their environmental impacts. We propose to build on this work by: (1) Developing a spatial socioeconomic model of change in LULC for the period 1981-2000; (2) Integrating this model with the SAAFDP's bird, amphibian, and water quality landscape models to understand the socioeconomic processes bringing about environmental change in the region; (3) Using this understanding and the model to assess potential future environmental impacts of likely socioeconomic events or trends; (4) Investigate the impacts of possible policy responses.


The SAAFDP's empirical data on LULC change for the period 1981-2000 will be used to estimate a dynamic, spatially-explicit (GIS) socioeconomic model of land use change, focusing on the role of changing regional economic conditions and changes in the landowner mix. The SAAFDP's LULC-driven models of changes in bird and macroinvertebrate benthic populations will be integrated with this GIS model to assess the environmental impacts of probable future changes in regional socioeconomic conditions and landowner composition. The environmental impacts of possible policy responses to perceived environmental changes, such as riparian buffer zones, maximum clearcut size regulations, and use value taxation programs, can then be explored in the context of these scenarios.

Expected Results:

The research will result in a model simulating land use and associated LULC and environmental change in an area of regional and national concern. We anticipate that the land use change models developed by this project should be broadly applicable to rural areas in the US facing the same sorts of trends in LULC. As such the model should be useful for much of the forested southeastern United States. The ecological models will be most applicable to areas with similar patterns of diversity and change, particularly in the southern Appalachian region.

In addition the research will focus and stimulate discussion based upon scientific information among stakeholders and guide the thinking of both concerned policymakers and the private sector.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 10 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 2 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

public policy, decisionmaking, biology, social science, southeast, TN, Tennessee, agriculture., RFA, Economic, Social, & Behavioral Science Research Program, Scientific Discipline, Geographic Area, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, State, Forestry, Monitoring/Modeling, Environmental Monitoring, decision-making, Ecology and Ecosystems, Social Science, Economics & Decision Making, monitoring, remote sensing, model-based analysis, spatial landscape model, social impact analysis, economic research, environmental decision making, remote sensing data, decision making, forest ecosystem, forest conservation decisions, modeling, socioeconomics, forest reources, environmental impact comparison, environmental impact, landscape ecology, forests, GIS, water quality, Tennesee (TN), ecological models, land use, land management

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2003 Progress Report
  • 2004 Progress Report
  • 2005 Progress Report
  • Final Report