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Designing Sustainable Landscapes



This page contain links to the Designing Sustainable Landscapes (DSL) project documentation, including a general overview and detailed technical documentation of the Landsacpe Change, Assessment and Design (LCAD) model.

Project Overview:

  • Project executive summary [updated 3/17/2017] -- This is a 4-page executive summary of the DSL project and LCAD model. Read this for a very quick start.

  • Project overview [updated 3/17/2017] -- This 50-page document is intended to serve as a general description of the DSL project, including an overview of our approach to meeting the project goals and objectives. This is the "one document to rule them all" and THE document to read to get a pretty good picture of the DSL project and our LCAD model and the various data products produced. This document is fairly detailed, but makes references to other more detailed documents (see below) that provide the technical details of our modeling approach. It is highly recommended that you read this document before attempting to read any of the other technical documents, as this document provides the overall framework of the project and establishes the context for the more specific technical documents.


  • Glossary of key terms/concepts [updated 3/7/2017] -- This document provides a glossary of key terms and concepts as used in the DSL project and is intended to facilitate communication and understanding among users.

Technical Documents:

The following documents provide a complete technical description of the LCAD model. Importantly, all of these documents are working documents and therefore subject to frequent change:

  • Ecological systems [updated 3/7/2017] --This document provides a summary of our use of ecological systems as an organizational framework for portions of the model. Here, we briefly introduce the concept of ecological systems and the challenges of using them as an organizational framework, and then briefly outline four alternatives (that we considered) for their use in the model, including a summary of the advantages and disadvantages of each, and the final adopted alternative.

  • Disturbance-succession [updated 3/7/2017] -- This document describes how we model vegetation disturbance and succession, and includes a detailed description of the methods and the alternatives considered.

  • Climate [updated 3/7/2017] -- This document describes how we model climate change. More specifically, this document describes the source of the climate change data that we are using and the methods we are applying to downscale the data to meet our needs.

  • Urban growth [update under development] -- This document describes how we are modeling urban growth. However, as the urban growth model is currently under major revision, here we provide only a brief overview of our modeling approach. A more detailed description of the revised model will follow soon.

  • Integrity [updated 3/7/2017] -- This document describes our coarse filter assessment based on the concept of landscape ecological integrity. Here, we define ecological integrity and the four major components of integrity that we quantify: intactness, resiliency, ecosystem diversity and adaptive capacity, and describe the various indices used to quantify each component.

  • Species [updated 3/7/2017] -- This document describes our species-based assessment based on the concept of landscape capability for a suite of representative species. Here, we define landscape capability and the methods used to measure each component for each species. In addition, here we link to detailed documentation of the landscape capability model developed for each representative species.

  • Connectivity [updated 3/7/2017] -- This document describes our local and regional connectivity assessment. Here, we define several connectivity concepts and how they are being used in the LCAD model, with particular attention to measurement of local and regional conductance, irreplaceability and vulnerability.
  • Landscape design [updated 3/7/2017] -- This document describes our landscape design component of the LCAD model and is illustrated using the "Connect the Connecticut" River watershed Landscape Conservation Design Pilot.

For more information, please contact:
Dr. Kevin McGarigal
Department of Environmental Conservation
University of Massachusetts
304 Holdsworth Natural Resources Center
Box 34210, Amherst, MA 01003
Fax: (413) 545-4358; Phone: (413) 577-0655

Copyright 2000 University of Massachusetts Amherst, Massachusetts, 01003. (413) 545-0111. This is an official page of the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus. All material in this website is made available according to the Fair Use Statute of the U.S. Copyright Act