Florida Climate Institute

​University of Florida

​Department of Geography

Ph.D. Candidate

Land Use and Environmental Change Institute (LUECI)

Open Land-Use Map: A Land Use Mapping Strategy for Southeast U.S. Coastal Plain and Piedmont


The Southeastern United States Coastal Plain and Piedmont regions characterized by high landscape heterogeneity, containing heavily managed forests, highly developed agricultural lands, and multiple metropolitan areas. Human activities are transforming and altering land patterns and structures in the region, resulting in both negative and positive consequences/results. The production of a land-use map at the scale of the entire Southeastern United States region helps researchers, decision makers and landowners better understand land-use and land management practices. The classification of land-use at the regional scale presents two major challenges: the need for a large data set of training points, and the time and labor-intensive computational requirements of classifier modeling for such large-scale study areas. However, recent developments in cloud computing, collaborative mapping, and user-generated content platforms, such as volunteered geographic information (VGI), have spawned a new era in geo-visualization or mapping and visualizing our world. A prominent example of VGI which has been favorably compared to propriety data sources, is the OpenStreetMap (OSM) project, which provides available road networks and other land-cover characteristics with global coverage. Such data are crucial to ground-truthing land-use; OSM thereby offers a valuable contribution to research which examines patterns and processes of land cover and land use. In this study, we employ the cloud-computing capabilities of Google Earth Engine and the user-generated data content of OpenStreetMap to build a random forest classifier. We develop a preliminary open and collaborative land-use and management map of the SEUS at a regional scale.