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Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School


First Advisor

Trisha Jackson


Forest Loss, WELD, U.S. Public Forest, U.S. Private Forest


Forest loss can be attributed to many factors, both natural and anthropogenic. This study analyzed forest loss in the conterminous United States between 2006 and 2010, which was mapped using 30 meter Landsat 7 Web-enabled Landsat Data (WELD). It looked for spatial variability between publicly owned and privately owned land and between areas of high and low relief. The Protected Areas Dataset (PAD) from the USGS Gap Analysis Program (GAP) was used to compare forest loss on public and private land. Relief was analyzed using degree of slope derived from National Elevation Datasets (NED). Private land showed higher rates of forest loss than public land and areas of low slope showed significantly higher rates of forest loss than high slope. In order to determine the causes of forest loss, random samples of forest loss from four strata were analyzed: private land with less than or equal to 10 degrees of slope (low slope), private land with greater than 10 degrees of slope (high slope), public land with less than or equal to 10 degrees of slope (low slope), and public land with greater than 10 degrees of slope (high slope). The highest amount of anthropogenic induced forest loss came from private areas with low slope. The only stratum in which natural forms of forest loss were dominant was public land with high slope. This research identified areas most susceptible to forest loss. The information will help administrators develop better management strategies where needed. Although other research has studied the effects of x land ownership and topography on forest loss, most projects only looked at a specific region or a single cause. The scale of this study allowed for a more holistic view of forest loss dynamics.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Forest ecology--United States
Forests and forestry--United States
Private forests--United States
Public lands--United States


Includes bibliographical references (pages 101-108)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


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