Alternative land use regulations and environmental impacts: Assessing future land use in an urbanizing watershed

Tenley M. Conway, Richard G. Lathrop

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations


Land use models provide a way to examine the impacts of future urbanization and alternative land use regulations on the environment before irreversible changes are made. A simple spatially-explicit model was used to explore potential build-out conditions under different sets of regulations for the Barnegat Bay watershed, New Jersey, USA. Four build-out scenarios were created based on: (1) current regulations, (2) down zoning, (3) protecting a buffer around wetlands, and (4) open space protection. Various indicators were used to measure the impacts of build-out land use on: (1) water demand, (2) urban non-point source pollution, and (3) terrestrial habitat fragmentation. Potential change from 1995 to build-out and differences between the four build-out scenarios were identified based on the indicators. The analysis suggests that substantial changes will occur in the watershed before build-out, but that there is little difference between the four regulatory scenarios examined. In all cases, water demand is projected to exceed water supply, water quality is projected to be severely impacted in several locations, and terrestrial habitat will be further fragmented. Based on these results, the ability of regulatory approaches commonly used in the United States' coastal zones to protect water and terrestrial resources from future development should be questioned.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalLandscape and Urban Planning
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 28 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


  • Build-out
  • Environmental indicators
  • Land use change
  • Land use regulations


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