The landscape evolution of the neighborhood study area was understood through a variety of techniques, both traditional and new. Historic maps, photographs, histories, and other documentation provided a basis for added analytical processes that utilized ArcView and the Internet. The greatest information gained through the analysis using ArcView script programs was the change in amount of tree cover on the site between 1947 and 1997. This large increase (257 percent increase) in number of trees certainly indicates that the spatial organization and vegetation of the landscape has changed since 1947. The increase in tree cover has probably created greater habitat for wildlife, increased a sense of enclosure in the neighborhood and may also have reduced storm water runoff in the area.
Also by using ArcView capabilities to calibrate aerial images to city level data, other changes to landscape features were traced through time. Landscape elements that have been lost since 1947 include open space inside the city block between Murray and Mulholland Streets. Also, the increase in parking lot size and its paving between Murray and Third Streets decreased the amount of open space in the project site and probably increased the overall percent of impervious surface. Smaller features such as fences and vegetation have also been altered as indicated by the photographic analysis which paired existing conditions and historic images.
Another major alteration in the landscape occurred earlier this century when Allen's Creek was placed underground. Several of the significant changes that have occurred as a result of this water feature's subterranean disappearance include a visual change, changes to the sounds that were heard when water flowed across the surface of the site, as well as changes to the natural ecology and processes of the watershed of the Huron River.
The Internet is useful in performing an analysis of landscape change for several reasons. It is often the case with landscape preservation projects that public bodies participate through listening, discussion and feedback sessions. Hardcopy information is usually presented during these sessions and relaying the information using this media is sometimes cost-prohibitive. Multiple color copies are not usually figured into a project budget. Providing information via the Internet could alleviate expensive photocopying, and provide an easy non-confrontational medium for the transfer of information. Economic benefits and ease of access for certain populations of providing information over the Internet indicates that this tool should be utilized more frequently.
It would be useful in the future landscape evolution analysis to adopt a project site that is larger in scale. Large amounts of GIS data do not exist at small scales. It seems that a limiting factor for this research was its small scale. However, most preservation projects focus on sites even smaller than the neighborhood studied in this project. Another limiting factor to this research was obtaining historic information that could be integrated with GIS information in some way. The overlaying of aerial photographs was a useful solution to integrate historical information. Other historical data is not so easily integrated.
In future GIS - related projects, I would like to explore land use changes over time at a county or city-wide level. Another type of project I would like to explore is the integration of historical census data to add a demographic element to landscape change. If I were to expand this project in particular, I would obtain the City of Ann Arbor's Forestry Department to illustrate street tree composition over time.
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