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Forests 2017, 8(10), 381; https://doi.org/10.3390/f8100381

Projecting Land Use Changes by Integrating Site Suitability Analysis with Historic Land Use Change Dynamics in the Context of Increasing Demand for Wood Pellets in the Southern United States

Daniel B. Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA
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Received: 8 September 2017 / Revised: 15 September 2017 / Accepted: 30 September 2017 / Published: 5 October 2017
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Abstract

Rising export of wood pellets from southern United States would bring more land under loblolly pine (Pinus taeda L.) at the expense of other competitive land uses. We developed an approach to project potential changes in existing land uses by integrating site suitability analysis with historical land use dynamics in a watershed located within Oconee River Basin, Georgia, United States. We developed a GIS-based site suitability model to classify land into three categories (High, Medium, and Low) for loblolly pine. Then, we calculated historical rates of land use changes in the selected watershed. Finally, we integrated the output of suitability analysis with the projected rates of land use changes under the two scenarios of wood pellet demand (High and Low) to determine an increase in area under loblolly pine for 2016, 2021, and 2026 in a spatially explicit manner. Relative to 2011, the combined changes in the shrubland and evergreen forest land cover categories under High Demand scenario were 7.6, 14.6, and 21.1% and under Low Demand scenario were 3.8, 7.5, and 11.1% for the years 2016, 2021, and 2026, respectively. The developed approach could be applied in a relatively short time at modest spatial scales. The outputs of this study can also be used to determine the environmental implications of land use changes for ensuring the overall sustainability of wood-based bioenergy development in the United States and beyond. View Full-Text
Keywords: bioenergy production; GIS modeling; loblolly pine; southern United States; watershed bioenergy production; GIS modeling; loblolly pine; southern United States; watershed
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Shrestha, S.; Dwivedi, P. Projecting Land Use Changes by Integrating Site Suitability Analysis with Historic Land Use Change Dynamics in the Context of Increasing Demand for Wood Pellets in the Southern United States. Forests 2017, 8, 381.

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