In this study, a land use/land cover change analysis method was developed to examine patterns of land use/land cover conversions of cropland to urban uses and conversions of rangeland to cropland uses in the United States (US) Midwest region. We used the US 2001 and 2006 National Land Cover Datasets (NLCD) for our spatial analyses of these conversion trends. Our analysis showed that the eastern part of the Midwest, like prior periods, continued to experience losses of cropland to urban expansion but at a much more rapid rate, as this was during an expansion phase of the US real estate construction cycle. The period showed a very small net loss of cropland as the loss was being balanced by gains in cropland at the expense of rangeland lost in the western part of the Midwest. We refer to this rangeland to cropland conversion as "replacement land". We do not suggest by replacement that there is a signal in the system that interconnects the loss of a hectare of cropland to urban land by converting a hectare of rangeland to cropland, rather we highlight this spatial trend as it raises concerns about the environmental sustainability of agriculture in the western part of the region, as production is dependent on the use of irrigation and the already stressed High Plains aquifer.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Global and Planetary Change
- Nature and Landscape Conservation