Land use dynamics and ecological transition: the case of South Florida

  • Walker R
  • Solecki W
  • Harwell C
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Abstract

This study examines the process of land use change in South Florida. Through this discussion, a conceptual model of ecological transition is developed and presented. The model is built on the general principles of neoclassical economic theories of land rent, behavioral models of resource use, and an historical geographic account of environmental change. Central to the paper is the specification of the theoretical link between demographics, market and service demands, land use, and ecological change. This study focuses on the nature and drivers of environmental change that has occurred in South Florida since 1900. The region studied includes the southern Florida Everglades and the surrounding area. The analysis determines that massive land useland cover has taken place in the region, particularly since the end of World War II. These landscape changes are conceptualized by a model that links regional demand for both agricultural and residential land through the agency of hierarchical forces. In this model, landscape evolution and natural areas encroachment are articulated as a dynamic process in which the regime of interaction between human systems and land use changes. Three main time periods for regional ecological transition are defined: (1) frontier closure (2) articulation of a system of cities with coupled agricultural hinterlands serving national and international markets. Differing land use change dynamics are identified as specific to each time period.

Author-supplied keywords

  • ecological transition
  • hierarchical model
  • land use

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Authors

  • RT Walker

  • WD Solecki

  • C Harwell

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