Measures Of Environmental Equity And The Gwynns Falls Watershed (presentation)

GROVE, J.M. and William R. Burch, Jr.

Theories of environmental equity are related to access to and control over the allocation of critical natural resources. These patterns and processes may be significant to understanding between urban revitalization and environmental restoration and approaches to human ecosystem management.

This research tested the theoretical relationship between patterns and processes of environmental equity and vegetation of an urban-rural watershed using Logan and Molotch's (1987) political economy theory of place. Specifically, an ecosystem and landscape approach was used to explore how differential access to and control of resources (social stratification) affected biophysical patterns (vegetation structure) of an urban-rural watershed over time and space. A social area analysis approach and Geographic Information System (GIS) were developed to measure patterns of social stratufication using indices of socioeconomic status, homeownership, and ethnicity. Satellite imagery and a GIS were used to classify and measure indicators of vegetation structure related to vegetation ground cover and canopy cover. This approach was applied to the Gwynns Falls watershed of the Baltimore, Maryland region (170,150 hectares; 356,170 residents) for a 20 year period (1970-1990).

Social stratification had a significant relationship to vegetation structure. Socioeconomic and household indices had a positive relationship; ethnicity had a negative relationship. The socioeconomic index had the largest relationship; the ethnicity index had less of a relationship; and the household index had the least relationship. A response lag existed between changes in sociocultural and biophysical characteristics: indicators of social stratification for 1970 explained the most variation and had the largest relationship to 1982 and 1992 vegetation structure. Social stratification had larger relationships to classes that included canopy cover than classes that did not.