Monday, January 3, 2011

Land development, land use, and urban sprawl in Puerto Rico integrating remote sensing and population census data

Sebasti´an Martinuzzi a,b
William A. Gould 
Olga M. Ramos Gonz´alez

Landscape and Urban Planning 79 (2007) 288–297


The island of Puerto Rico has both a high population density and a long history of ineffective land use planning. This study integrates geospatial technology and population census data to understand how people use and develop the lands. We define three new regions for Puerto Rico: Urban (16%), Densely Populated Rural (36%), and Sparsely Populated Rural (48%). Eleven percent of the island is composed of urban/built-up surfaces. A large part of these developments occur in both low-density patterns of construction and sparsely populated neighborhoods. Half of the urban development occurs outside of urban centers. This analysis helps differentiate zones in the landscape with different uses and conditions, identifying not only urban and rural settings, but also the interface where development occurs in a territory dominated by forests and pastures, analogous to a wildland urban interface. The ineffective plan of land development has left a high degree of urban sprawl in 40% of island, where cities and towns appear typically surrounded by sprawl. The San Juan Metropolitan Area is one of the most expanded urbanized areas with a population of 2–2.5 million, comparable with the most sprawled cities of the U.S. mainland. This study reinforces the need for an efficient land use planning, and provides information to support research and planning efforts related to land development and conservation. It represents the first approach integrating satellite imagery with population census data for studying the human environment in the Caribbean.

Puerto Rico, San Juan, image by  Willamor Media

more posts about Latin America:

Planning with Community Vision of Fontana (Argentina)

Skyline photos of Buenos Aires, Argentina 1

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