Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Jane Read


Conservation Plans, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Land-Use Land-Cover Change, Leximancer

Subject Categories



Various levels of government try to manage the spread of urbanization and the increasing threat to open space and agricultural lands by implementing various comprehensive or conservation plans. Extensive research has also studied the changing landscape using remote sensing and GIS, yet little has been done to connect the environmental policies with these technologies. Using Tompkins County, New York as a case study, this project attempts to combine these two aspects by examining how land-cover and land-use is changing over time with respect to environmental policies put in place at various governmental levels. Each town in the county has developed its own comprehensive plan within the last fifteen years. Furthermore, at the county level, agricultural and open space conservation plans have been drawn up in addition to a county-wide comprehensive plan. Protection of open space and aid in development extends up through the state level with the New York State Open Space Conservation Plans, first published in 1992. Using GIS and remote sensing, land-use and land-cover classification maps were created for five years between 1991 and 2012. The change in open space was calculated at the county and town level. Using the textual analysis software Leximancer, seventeen documents from the town, county, and state level were examined for major themes and concepts. The results of the textual analysis were compared to the GIS results to determine whether changes in the landscape can be attributed to policies enacted at various governmental levels. This project found that environmental plans have shifted over time with changes in society but that different levels of government often focus on different factors. Further, changes in the landscape can be more strongly associated with local government plans rather than those at the state level.


Open Access

Included in

Geography Commons



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