Information on the rates of land-use and land-cover change is important in addressing issues ranging from the health of aquatic resources to climate change. Unfortunately, there is a paucity of information on land-use and land-cover change except at very local levels. We describe a strategy for estimating land-cover change across the conterminous United States over the past 30 years. Change rates are estimated for 84 ecoregions using a sampling procedure and five dates of Landsat imagery. We have applied this methodology to six eastern U.S. ecoregions. Results show very high rates of change in the Plains ecoregions, high to moderate rates in the Piedmont ecoregions, and moderate to low rates in the Appalachian ecoregions. This indicates that ecoregions are appropriate strata for capturing unique patterns of land-cover change. The results of the study are being applied as we undertake the mapping of the rest of the conterminous United States.
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A strategy for estimating the rates of recent United States land-cover changes