Land Use: Recreational

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What does recreational land include?

            Recreational land incorporates open land managed for general public outdoor recreation usage. 


How does percent recreational land affect environmental quality?

As urbanization, population, and density increase there is an ever more pressing need for recreation and open space for the public.  Environmentally, open space impacts are minimal as the land contains grassy fields, vegetation, and small amounts of impervious cover.  The vegetation and lack of development signifies that natural cycles, such as soil, nutrient, carbon, and hydrologic, are maintained, but at a reduced level in comparison to forested land.  Since most regions will continue to develop rapidly, the preservation of recreational land becomes more important as it will aid in the reduction of environmental degradation.    

            An increase could represent either a decline in forested areas, razing of development, or resurrection of a brown-field site.  While a decline in forested area represents a loss in vegetation, recreational land can compensate through low-impact design measures, which increase infiltration rates and slow the velocity of storm-water runoff.  Furthermore, more open space equates with more green space, which results in a healthier environment in contrast to development or a vacant brown-field site. 

A decrease in recreational land tends to be associated with residential or commercial development.  A decrease due to development results in a reduction in vegetation, more impervious surfaces, reduction of biodiversity, and increased runoff.   


How does percent recreational land affect sustainability?

An increase or decrease in recreational land represents a shift in land-use which affects the soil, nutrient, and hydrological cycles.  Each region must interpret the data in the context of the growth and changes of the region.  There are no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ percentages of recreational land; however, typically a reduction is unsustainable, while maintaining or increasing percentages signify higher environmental quality.  (As a side note, heavy amounts of fertilization to maintain open space vegetation will have negative effects on water quality.)  Ultimately, recreational land is a positive aspect for sustainability


What other indicators are affected by recreational land? 

Human health, specifically obesity rates, should be considered in conjunction with recreational land.  Open space encourages the public to be active, thus serving to reduce obesity rates, obesity-induced diseases—such as diabetes, and to lower health care costs for the community.  


Next step?

            Examine the database of percent recreational land.  After the examination of recreational land proceed to population density.     


          Percent Recreational Land Data


Author: Elisa Mayes