The west-central region of Alabama is rich in natural resources. Yet changes in land use seem unrelated to improvements in human well-being. Satellite imagery and U.S. census data for 1980 and 2000 were analyzed to test whether changes in land cover were related to changes in a human well-being index-of income, employment and education at the Cenus Block Group (CBG) level. A spatial regression model revealed that considerable human well-being improvements were only weakly, though significantly correlated with changes in land covers. This relationship varied over geographic locations in response to the initial human well-being and socioeconomic conditions as well as changes in racial composition, population structure, income distribution, and industry structure. The results suggest that lack of understanding of the regional phenomenon may increase the risk of misguided economic development policies.
Gyawali, B.; Fraser, R.; Schelhas, J.; Wang, Y.; Tadesse, W.; Bukenya, J. 2009. Human well-being and land cover types in the southeastern U.S.A.. International Journal of Ecology and Development 14(F09):81-94.