Geospatial Analysis to Site Urban Agriculture
Parece, Tammy E.
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The rapid expansion of urban systems in both area and population represents the most significant landuse/landcover change occurring in the world today. Urbanization is often accompanied by increasing environmental degradation. This degradation is related to stormwater runoff, air temperatures greater than surrounding rural areas, increased air and water pollution, losses of vegetated lands, and lack of access to sufficient and healthy foods in lower-income areas. Urban agriculture (UA), a practice long established in previous eras but neglected for many decades, can mediate such concerns by providing greenspaces to improve ecosystem services. Successful practice of UA requires recognition of interactions between social and environmental patterns. Neglect of these interactions leads to failure in spatially integrating social and environmental dimensions of the urban landscape, limiting the success of UA. This study investigates siting of UA within Roanoke, Virginia, a compact urban region characterized by social and environmental conditions that can be addressed by effective siting and practice of UA. This research takes a broader perspective than prior studies on UA and urban greenspaces. It proposes innovative applications of geospatial technologies for urban assessment. Studies on UA have typically focused on food insecurity, while studies on greenspaces focus on parks and tree canopy cover, without investigating interactions that promote synergies between these two efforts. Research over the past few years is now recognizing potential contributions for urban agriculture to alleviate environmental issues such as stormwater runoff, soil infertility, and the urban heat island effect. Little of this research has been devoted to the actual siting of urban agriculture to specifically alleviate both socio-economic and environmental issues. This research applies geospatial technologies to evaluate spatial patterns characterizing both environmental and socio-economic disparities within the City of Roanoke, Virginia. This approach has identified specific locations that are open and available for urban agriculture, and has appraised varying levels of socio-economic and environmental parameters. This research identified, at the census block group level, areas with varying levels of degradation. Thus, those locations in which a new urban agriculture greenspace can contribute to both socio-economic and environmental reparation. This research has identified spatial dimensions in which UA will assist in restoring ecosystem services to guide various food production activities. These results can be generalized to other urban locations and contribute to efficient use of urban land and space, improving the three pillars of worldwide sustainability – economic, environment, and social.
- Doctoral Dissertations