When properly managed, working forests can provide a wide range of important ecosystem services such as clean water and wildlife habitat.
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Landscape Values and Sense of Place
Rural landscape values
A large portion of the people who live in the Appalachian region live outside of cities, and these rural communities often place high value on the unique sense of place that comes from living in rural, often largely forested, places. These same communities may also value the economic activity that comes with development and industry. When these values compete, there is often an expectation that the quality of rural life need not be eroded as landscapes change. Nonetheless, the changes that come with urbanization, energy development (including gas, wind, and surface mining), and even climate change can have negative impacts on the unique sense of place and quality of life of rural communities. Ensuring that these intangible—but often crucial—values are given consideration can help guide development in ways that do not erode the social fabric of Appalachian landscapes.
The abundance of natural areas, streams and rivers, and protected state and federal lands make Appalachian landscapes a prime destination for nature-based recreation activities, and nature-based tourism is a crucial economic activity in many Appalachian communities. As rural landscapes and water supplies are increasingly converted to more intensive uses with urbanization, opportunities for outdoor recreation are expected to decline. At the same time, demand for such opportunities will increase with population growth in the region and in nearby large cities, stressing the capacity of natural areas and water bodies to accommodate visitors without degrading natural characteristics. This should create incentives for freshwater stream and forest restoration to enhance the capacity of landscapes to support compatible activities.
See relevant references list here.
Housing density is a good indicator of urbanization, landscape-scale land use intensification, and landscape fragmentation.
Descriptions of landscape cover types and fragmentation yield rich information about how forest, rural, and urban areas interface and mix.
The Protected Areas Database of the United States (PAD-US) inventories the nation's protected open spaces.
Seasonal homes in the Appalachians are abundant in the more rural areas that provide access to the region’s cultural and natural amenities and scenic views.
The boundaries between natural and urban areas in Appalachia are continually challenged as urban populations expand.