The Emerald Necklace Greenway Project: Using GIS to Define Open Space Conservation Priorities

Publication Date


Committee Chair

Mark P. Kumler, Ph.D.

Committee Members

Karen K. Kemp, Ph.D.
Timothy Krantz, Ph.D.


Cities across the United States are concerned about the future of their open spaces. Over the years development pressures, population growth, and environmentally insensitive policies have led to urban sprawl and the degradation of many of our natural resources. Strip malls, parking lots, and apartment complexes now stand where agricultural, biological, cultural and recreational resources once existed. As a result, things that once represented our collective natural and cultural heritage are no longer.

In Redlands, California, this situation has led concerned citizens to express a desire to develop a greenway that adheres to the open space element of the Redlands General Plan. The objectives of the proposed greenway are to conserve open spaces, protect agricultural lands from development, enhance Redlands’ character, and promote a high quality of life for residents. Faced with this challenge, the City of Redlands has recognized the need to evaluate the suitability of proposed developments relative to open space protection priorities. This has raised many difficult questions. What areas should be protected? What areas already have development constraints? Where should a greenway corridor go? How can we get citizens involved?

This report introduces an approach that allows decision makers to explore these questions. It is based on a series of GIS models that produce suitability maps for the purposes of greenway planning and delineation of a potential greenway corridor. These models allow decision makers to develop alternative open space scenarios by integrating dynamic parameters, model criteria, and weighting schemes. Thus, a variety of suitability and least-cost path maps that show areas appropriate for various open space uses can easily be produced.

Full text is available at the University of Redlands


Article Location