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Theses and Dissertations

Modelling landscape changes and metrics, and determining optimal resource allocation by integrating Geographic Information Systems, government policy, and economics Open Access


Other title
land cover change
LUCC Modelling
ecosystem services
Dinamica EGO
government policy
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Stan, Kayla D
Supervisor and department
Sanchez-Azofeifa, Arturo (Earth and Atmospheric Sciences)
Examining committee member and department
Musilek, Petr (Electrical and Computer Engineering)
Rivard, Benoit (Earth and Atmospheric Sciences)
Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Science
Degree level
The main goal of this thesis is to contribute to the knowledge base of land use and land cover change dynamics in ecologically sensitive, seasonal environments with a dominant agricultural industry. Anthropogenic alteration by land-based industries currently threatens many ecosystems, including the neotropics, and agricultural belt of North America. By fusing spatial information with socioeconomics through Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and spatial modeling platforms, gaps in the understanding of the dynamics in these landscapes are addressed. Biogeophysical variables, used in conjunction with the landscape maps, were utilized to develop a baseline projection model in the Dinamica Environment for Geoprocessing Objects (EGO). Future scenarios were based on integrating legislative polices and economic factors. This makes it an effective tool for policy makers. The second chapter outlines the impacts of current legislation, in the State of Minas Gerais, Brazil, on the remaining natural land. Recent revisions to the federal environmental policy and international agreements, of which the country is a signatory, will lead to different environmental paths. A secondary economic model indicates that incorporating the value of biodiversity into the land sale price can significantly decrease the quantity of land that is altered over the next decade. The third chapter runs a similar integrated modeling system in Alberta, Canada. Alberta, however, has sparse environmental policies and the platform served as a method of creating and predicting the effects of legislation on the landscape. If the government intervenes and deters urban sprawl that has historically been present, there are several ways to balance economic growth and environmental protection through landscape design policies. The results of my research indicate that the Dinamica system is an effective cross-continental tool for policy makers. Future research should focus on the integration of information into a holistic system. It should also include avenues to engage in interdisciplinary studies. Communication of the research to a broader audience and engagement of these sectors in the decision-making processes are key, not only in LCC modeling, but in many aspects of environmental study.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
Citation for previous publication
K.D. Stan, A. Sanchez-Azofeifa, M. Espirito Santo, C. Portillo-Quintero (2015). Simulating deforestation in Minas Gerais, Brazil, under changing government policies and socioeconomic conditions, PLOS ONE, pone.0137911.

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