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Quantifying Landscape Connectivity: A GIS-based Approach

Authors: Siqing S. Chen


Landscape connectivity combines a description of the physical structure of the landscape with special species- response to that structure, which forms the theoretical background of applying landscape connectivity principles in the practices of landscape planning and design. In this study, a residential development project in the southern United States was used to explore the meaning of landscape connectivity and its application in town planning. The vast rural landscape in the southern United States is conspicuously characterized by the hedgerow trees or groves. The patchwork landscape of fields surrounded by high hedgerows is a traditional and familiar feature of the American countryside. Hedgerows are in effect linear strips of trees, groves, or woodlands, which are often critical habitats for wildlife and important for the visual quality of the landscape. Based on geographic information system (GIS) and statistical analysis (FRAGSTAT), this study attempts to quantify the landscape connectivity characterized by hedgerows in south Alabama where substantial areas of authentic hedgerow landscape are being urbanized due to the ever expanding real estate industry and high demand for new residential development. The results of this study shed lights on how to balance the needs of new urban development and biodiversity conservation by maintaining a higher level of landscape connectivity, thus will inform the design intervention.

Keywords: Biodiversity, Connectivity, GIS, Landscape Planning

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