Land Cover and Population

Indicators :: Population Trends :: Urbanized Area Growth :: Land Cover Change

This section contains basic statistics about the population trends in the Triangle and the resulting changes in the landscape. Population growth is a key driver of land cover change, with growing populations reflected in the transformation of fields and forests into businesses, homes, and roads.

The Triangle’s population grew by 298% between 1950 and 2008, from 387,344 to 1,541,253 people. Most of the growth was in Wake County (see Population Trends). At the same time, the amount of urbanized area (as defined by the US Census Bureau) increased 1,658% from 27 to 476 mi2 (see Urbanized Area Growth). Forest and agricultural land, still the most common land cover in the Triangle, are the types of land most often converted to urbanized land (see Land Cover Change).

We are also spreading out. In every census period since 1950, our urbanized areas have become less dense and the amount of urbanized land per person has increased - from 0.12 to 0.37 acres per person. Had we continued urbanizing at 1950 population densities, our urbanized areas would have covered less than 5% of the Triangle in 2000 - instead of the nearly 15% they actually covered (see Urbanized Area Growth).

Fearrington Village, Chatham County.

Indicators :: Population Trends :: Urbanized Area Growth :: Land Cover Change