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Agent Based and Analytical Modeling to Evaluate the Effectiveness of Greenbelts

Publication Abstract

Brown, Daniel, S.E. Page, R.L. Riolo, and W. Rand. 2004. "Agent Based and Analytical Modeling to Evaluate the Effectiveness of Greenbelts." Environmental Modelling and Software, 19(12): 1097-1109.

We present several models of residential development at the rural–urban fringe to evaluate the effectiveness of a greenbelt located beside a developed area, for delaying development outside the greenbelt. First, we develop a mathematical model, under two assumptions about the distributions of service centers, that represents the trade-off between greenbelt placement and width, their effects on the rate of development beyond the greenbelt, and how these interact with spatial patterns of aesthetic quality and the locations of services. Next, we present three agent-based models (ABMs) that include agents with the potential for heterogeneous preferences and a landscape with the potential for heterogeneous attributes. Results from experiments run with a one-dimensional ABM agree with the starkest of the results from the mathematical model, strengthening the support for both models. Further, we present two different two-dimensional ABMs and conduct a series of experiments to supplement our mathematical analysis. These include examining the effects of heterogeneous agent preferences, multiple landscape patterns, incomplete or imperfect information available to agents, and a positive aesthetic quality impact of the greenbelt on neighboring locations. These results suggest how width and location of the greenbelt could help determine the effectiveness of greenbelts for slowing sprawl, but that these relationships are sensitive to the patterns of landscape aesthetic quality and assumptions about service center locations.

DOI:10.1016/j.envsoft.2003.11.012 (Full Text)

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