Fragmentation of forest, grassland, and shrublandThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
As humans introduce competing land uses into natural landscapes, the public concerns regarding landcover patterns are expressed through headline issues such as urban sprawl, forest fragmentation, water quality, and wilderness preservation. The spatial arrangement of an environment affects all human perceptions and ecological processes within that environment, but this usually happens in competing ways, so the task for resource managers is to maintain appropriate amounts and patterns of different landcover types to provide the desired balance of social and ecological benefits. A prerequisite for informed management actions at local, regional, and national scales is reliable information about landcover patterns at those scales. National assessments of landcover patterns make it possible to identify national strategies to achieve particular objectives. To the extent that national data are also able to capture local details, the same information can be used for local planning as well.