"There's a top-down hierarchy of factors that should influence landowners' decision to develop, "Meentemeyer said. "Yet we often see locations where the development value far exceeds the human or ecological intrinsic value of the land but the forest or agricultural area still persists. Why is that? There is something going on there that we don't understand."
"It is really well-studied why things change," agreed Douglas Shoemaker, UNC Charlotte Center for Applied GIScience Director of Research, "yet we are seeing an unexpected pattern. Why doesn't everything go? In principle, urbanization and agriculture and forestry cannot co-exist, but, despite that, we see it in Charlotte. Why is a great research question."
The researchers believe that the secret to developing a model that can help analyze such complex urban development issues is to incorporate into the calculations not only all the complicated interconnected variables of regulations, economics and physical or environmental conditions, but also something equally intricate and far more elusive the values, attitudes and preferences of the unique group of people who currently own and occupy the city's landscape.
In order to get a realistic version of these very personal factors into the model, a major part of the research involves the sophisticated surveying of a large sample of the city's current landowners to get detailed information on their attitudes and values, which, when added with all the other data, will help the computer model predict how they would react in any number of hypothetical situations. In essence, the culture and attitudes of real people will become a critical part of an abstract, analytical system.
"We will use a set of methods that will get at people's motivations, not on the basis of actual c
|Contact: James Hathaway|
University of North Carolina at Charlotte