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NELF Explorer: Drivers of Landscape Change

Author(s): Meghan Graham MacLean

University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Students explore the connections between land use decisions and land cover change, as well as how to predict the possible impacts of land use decisions into the future.

Licensed under CC Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International according to these terms

Version 1.0 - published on 28 May 2020 doi:10.25334/SAXJ-XC69 - cite this



In this module, we’ll explore the New England Landscape Futures (NELF) project where stakeholders from around New England created four scenarios that represent possible land use and land cover futures of New England.  The NELF project uses concepts from Landscape Ecology and Land Systems Science to describe and then model potential future landscapes to show how land use decisions can impact our future landscape.  This module introduces both the NELF project, as well as some of the modeling theories and practices used to create projections of future land cover for policy and scientific analysis. 


At the end of the lesson, students should:

  • Have a background understanding of land use change in New England
  • Recognize the difference between land use and land cover
  • Be able to identify what a neutral model is
  • Understand the benefits and challenges of future scenarios and modeling of land use/land cover


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