Date of Award

Spring 2017

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Geography

First Advisor

Dr. Gregory Veeck

Second Advisor

Dr. Chansheng He

Third Advisor

Dr. Charles Emerson

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access

Abstract

Each year, Louisiana loses 20 to 25 square miles of land. If land loss persists at the current rate, a forced migration of the human population with serious implications may be warranted. Although studies have measured land use/land cover change in southeast Louisiana over multiple decades, a recent analysis of landscape changes since Hurricane Katrina’s landfall in 2005 is needed to identify areas with chronic long-term wetland losses and associated economic development patterns. This study, therefore, compares land cover and land use changes including wetland loss, and subsequent increases in developed land in ten parishes from 2001 to 2006 (pre-Katrina), 2006 to 2011 (post-Katrina), and 2001 to 2011. Results shown three times more land loss during the post-Katrina than pre-Katrina years. Over the long term (2001- 2011), 97% of total land loss included open water gains from emergent herbaceous wetlands, woody wetlands, and barren land categories. Land use change shown most development occurred in East Baton Rouge, Ascension, and Livingston parishes during pre-Katrina years.

Three times more woody wetlands were lost in pre-Katrina years, and 25% of all increases in development during those years came at the expense of woody wetlands. Both open water and development appeared to be the primary drivers of the losses in woody wetlands.

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