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 Partnering for Land Use Sustainability

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Our program addresses the overarching research question:
What ecological footprints are needed for sustainable land use futures?

Specific research questions explored are:

  1. What individual behaviors impact ecological footprints?

  2. How can tools such as models and decision support systems be used to determine the course to sustainability?

  3. How can policies be adopted that alter behaviors to sustain ecological footprints?

Members of the PLUS group believe that a fresh approach is needed and places sustainability into a context of lifestyle choices, behavior characteristic of landowners and decision makers, and biological thresholds and carrying capacity limits occurring in ecosystems. Our project is designed to help frame current discussions on land use occurring in Indiana, including: What would ecological footprints of a biofuel future look like for Indiana? If current development trends continue, what would the ecological consequences be? What are the configurations, location, and quantity of wild lands needed to sustain ecosystems? What behaviors (drivers of change) impact the use of our land for housing, economic development, food, fiber, wildlife, and energy?


To determine ecological footprints needed for sustainable land use futures.

2 Year Objectives

1. Build capacity and tools that result in sustainable land use systems

2. Demonstrate ability to apply expertise and tools to land use planning problems that impact sustainable ecological footprints

3. Develop proof of concept material that will be used to seek funding from large extramural funding programs


The Partnering for Land Use Sustainability Area of Excellence builds upon the expertise of faculty and staff in the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, utilizes the rich datasets and tools we have developed, and links to successful extension programs that engage communities in using our discoveries to inform local land use and economic development decisions. Project activities center around 6 integrated tasks:

  • Data development and integration
  • Sustainability framework development
  • Model development and application
  • Decision support system enhancement
  • Community engagement
  • Student mentoring and interdisciplinary team building

This integrated research and extension project will support and enhance the emerging undergraduate program in Natural Resource Planning and Decision Making. This Area of Excellence addresses the following 4 goals of NSF’s new strategic plan:

  • Achieving a sustainable lifestyle
  • Increasing multidisciplinary research
  • Improving computational infrastructure and development of new tools
  • Connecting all research to social/policy issues of global relevance

Participating Faculty and Staff

Bryan Pijanowski (Co-chair)

Linda Prokopy (Co-chair)

Paul Brown

Jarrod Doucette

Jeff Dukes

Reuben Goforth

Past Members:  Shannon Amberg, Richard Farnsworth, and Helen Row

Tomas Höök

William Hoover

Robert McCormick

Marisol Sepulveda

Guofan Shao

Rob Swihart


Products and Publications

Proposal for 2009-2010

Local Decision Maker program - The 4-step process to protecting your community's water and environmental resources through the comprehensive planning process.

Inland Lakes Project web page -  Several members of the PLUS group (Höök, Pijanowski, Prokopy) are working with professors in the Agriculutral and Biological Engineering to examine the relationship between land use, water quality, and fish populations in the past, present, and future.

Upcoming Events and Presentations

The PLUS group holds weekly meetings. Please contact Dr. Pijanowski or Dr. Prokopy if you are interested in attending.

Recent News

PLUS members have begun work on four new pilot projects. Two of the projects will examine biofuels, climate feedbacks and land use change while the other two will focus on inland lakes and social dimensions. See the 2009-2010 proposal for more details.

Working Relationships

Members of the PLUS group work with a variety of state agencies, non-profit ogranizations, and other departments at Purdue.

- Partners -


- Collaborators -

Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant   Agricultural and Biological Engineering
Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR)   Agricultural Economics
The Nature Conservancy   Agriculture
Tippecanoe County Soil & Water Conservation District   Civil Engineering
Protecting Our Water and Environmental Resources (POWER)   Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
Purdue Center for Regional Development (PCRD)   Political Science
Purdue Climate Change Research Center (PCCRC)