National Land Change Assessment

Science Center Objects

The National Land Change Assessment (NLCA) is a research effort that examines the causes, trends, and implications of United States land change. The project takes a comprehensive approach towards understanding land change by systematically examining land conversion and management across a full range of land use and land cover types and climate and ecological settings. Land change is a key driver of environmental change and has important implications related to climate variability and change, biodiversity, natural resources, and ecosystem services.

Map showing percent annual rate of ecoregion change in the contiguous United States 1973 to 2000

Historical and recent land transformations are examined using an innovative multi-scale ecoregion framework . The approach employs a variety of spatial analysis approaches to provide an understanding of the geographically- and temporally-variable processes of land change, focusing on the interactions between humans and their environment. A goal of the project is to provide a scientific basis for land management and policy decisions related to issues of sustainability and resilience.


Changes to the National Landscape

How are the long-term trends, land change transitions, and historical legacies of land use change affecting social-environmental systems and sustainability? This research examines the spatial-temporal dynamics and implications of US land change within the context of global environmental change.

Landscape Conservation Cooperatives

  • Land-cover Change in the Gulf Coastal Plains and Ozarks Landscape Conservation Cooperative, 1973 to 2000

    The results show that an estimated 17.7 percent of the Gulf Coastal Plains and Ozarks Landscape Conservation Cooperative (LCC) land cover had a change during the 27-year period. Cyclic forest dynamics—of timber harvest and regrowth—are the most extensive types of land conversion. Agricultural land had an estimated net decline of 3.5 percent as cropland and pasture were urbanized and developed and converted to forest use. Urban and other developed land covers expanded from 2.0 percent of the LCC in 1973 to 3.1 percent in 2000.

Great Plains

Eastern U.S.

Intensive Land Systems