Numerous landscape architects, scientists, and those concerned about the
health of natural systems have argued that natural systems should be considered
as primary physical infrastructure of a city. And increasing scientific
evidence supports the need for the position. The intention of this project
was to support this argument with effective, practical, and defensible tools.
The project shows how a municipality can develop a computerized Geographic
Information System (GIS) model that takes readily available data and effectively
predict the effects of proposed development on natural system. Specifically,
the model evaluates the changes in landscape pattern caused by development
on bird habitat.
The model used McConnell land cover information for a 400 square kilometer
area of West Springfield, Massachusetts. It developed a digital scripting
sequence that predicts bird species type and richness in response to predicted
land development patterns. Using this model, city officials and citizens
can be better equipped to evaluate proposed developments effects on
natural systems--and avert potentially damaging results.
The model was completed in collaboration with Kristina Hill. The diagrams show the paired before and after analyses based on types of birds: Forest Interior Species (top left), Old Field (top right), and Suburban Generalists (bottom left). The composite map is shown in the bottom left. The map to the left shows the original landscape types before development scenarios were applied.