Skip to Main Content
Urban Expansion and the Loss of Prime Agricultural Lands in Puerto RicoAuthor(s): T. Mitchell Aide Tania del Mar López
Source: Ambio Vol. 30 No. 1, Feb.
Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication
PDF: Download Publication (1.7 B)
DescriptionIn many countries where the economy has shifted from mainly agricultural to industrial, abandoned agricultural lands are lost to urbanization. For more than 4 centuries the Puerto Rican economy depended almost entirely on agriculture, but sociopolitical changes early in the 20th century resulted in a shift to industry. This shift in the economy, and an increase in population, has resulted in an increase in urban areas. This study describes the rate and distribution of urban growth on the island of Puerto Rico from 1977 to 1994 and the resulting influence on potential agricultural lands. Urban extent and growth were determined by interpreting aerial photographs and satellite imagery. The 1994 urban coverage was combined with a soil coverage based on agricultural potential to determine the distribution of urban areas relative to potential farmlands. Analyses showed that in 1977, 11.3% of Puerto Rico was classified as urban. After 17 years, urban areas had increased by 27.4% and urban growth on soils suitable for agriculture had increased by 41.6%. This represents a loss of 6% of potential agricultural lands. If this pattern of encroachment by urban growth into potential farmlands continues, Puerto Rico’s potential for food production in the future could be greatly limited.
- We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
- This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
CitationTania del Mar López, T. Mitchell Aide, John R. Thomlinson. 2001. Urban Expansion and the Loss of Prime Agricultural Lands in Puerto Rico. Ambio Vol. 30 No. 1, Feb.
- The Puerto Rico Gap Analysis Project Volume 1: land cover, vertebrate species distributions, and land stewardship
- Land Use, Conservation, Forestry, and Agriculture in Puerto Rico
- A dendrochronological study of teak (Tectona grandis L. f., Verbenaceae) in Puerto Rico
XML: View XML