The New York-New Jersey Highlands Regional Assessment Update addresses the implications of continued land use change for natural resources of the Highlands. CRSSA focused on the assessment of land use/land cover change; forest and watershed integrity; hydrologic systems; biodiversity; recreation and open space; population trends and projected growth. Investigators utilized and integrated digital geo-spatial technologies such as geographic information systems (GIS) and remote sensing for these applications.
The 1992 New York-New Jersey Highlands Regional Study concluded that the process of land use change is transforming the Highlands directly through land conversion and indirectly through habitat fragmentation. The Highlands act as a greenbelt and drinking water source to the nation's largest metropolitan area. Therefore, the associated loss of forest land and open space is of major concern.
The New York -New Jersey Highlands are at a critical juncture. Future options for the protection and management of forest, farmland, watersheds, wildlife habitat, and open space will be severely limited if development continues to occur in sprawling patterns and at a frenzied pace.