June 16th, 2016: “The FUTURES model: An open-source tool for understanding where cities will grow in the future and how this will impact conservation efforts” with Derek Van Berkel, NC State University Center for Geospatial Analysis
Increasing global population is accelerating urbanization and rapidly transforming natural systems to impervious built environments. Emerging development challenges include: where (and how) can people live without compromising the natural resources and land systems needed for sufficient food, water, and energy production, and how do we minimize the ecological footprint of cities for maintaining wildlife habitat and special places for outdoor recreation? Despite the important role urbanization plays in altering ecosystem services, few tools are available for examining the long-term impacts of urban growth. The FUTURES (FUTure Urban-Regional Environment Simulation) model is a new user-friendly, open-source geospatial computer model for simulating urbanization and landscape fragmentation relevant to conservation. FUTURES simulates landscape change based on demand for development, local site suitability factors, and a stochastic patch-growing algorithm. Recent advances to the model leverage parallel computing to produce multi-level projections at high resolution over large spatial extents.
In this presentation, Derek will demonstrate the FUTURES model, giving practical advice on how it is implemented, and instructions on how users can leverage the open-source application for their own conservation projects. He will explore results for the South Atlantic LCC multi-state region in the southeastern United States to understand how the model can help better understand pressures related to urban growth in sensitive ecological areas. Alternative urban growth scenarios are combined with policy restrictions within South Atlantic Blueprint areas to evaluate impacts to these important locations. Results highlight the tradeoffs of different growth strategies for both social and ecological functioning. FUTURES can possibly be an important springboard for initiating and guiding dialogue about conservation priorities by helping stakeholder untangle complex urban-related problems involving ecosystem service tradeoffs.
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