The green areas of San Juan, Puerto Rico
Olga M. Ramos-González, USDA Forest Service International Institute of Tropical Forestry
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Green areas, also known as green infrastructure or urban vegetation, are vital to urbanites for their critical roles in mitigating urban heat island effects and climate change and for their provision of multiple ecosystem services and aesthetics. Here, I provide a high spatial resolution snapshot of the green cover distribution of the city of San Juan, Puerto Rico, by incorporating the use of morphological spatial pattern analysis (MSPA) as a tool to describe the spatial pattern and connectivity of the city’s urban green areas. Analysis of a previously developed IKONOS 4-m spatial resolution classification of the city of San Juan from 2002 revealed a larger area of vegetation (green areas or green infrastructure) than previously estimated by moderate spatial resolution imagery. The city as a whole had approximately 42% green cover and 55% impervious surfaces. Although the city appeared greener in its southern upland sector compared to the northern coastal section, where most built-up urban areas occurred (66% impervious surfaces), northern San Juan had 677 ha more green area cover dispersed across the city than the southern component. MSPA revealed that most forest cover occurred as edges and cores, and green areas were most commonly forest cores, with larger predominance in the southern sector of the municipality. In dense, built-up, urban land, most of the green areas occurred in private yards as islets. When compared to other cities across the United States, San Juan was most similar in green cover features to Boston, Massachusetts, and Miami, Florida. Per capita green space for San Juan (122.2 m²/inhabitant) was also comparable to these two U.S. cities. This study explores the intra-urban vegetation variation in the city of San Juan, which is generally overlooked by moderate spatial resolution classifications in Puerto Rico. It serves as a starting point for green infrastructure mapping and landscape pattern analysis of the urban green spaces within the city of San Juan. The effectiveness of research and city planning will be further enhanced as a result of this type of finer-scale urban cover exploration.
green areas; green infrastructure; morphological spatial pattern analysis (MSPA); spatial pattern analysis; urban forests; urban green area characterization; urban vegetation
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