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What is LUCIS

The Land-Use Conflict Identification Strategy, aka LUCIS, is a goal-driven GIS model that produces a spatial representation of probable patterns of future land use divided into the following categories:

  • Existing conservation lands
  • Existing urban lands
  • Existing agricultural lands to remain **
  • Areas preferred for future conservation land use
  • Areas preferred for future urban land use
  • Areas of probable future conflict between agricultural and conservation land uses
  • Areas of probable future conflict between agricultural and urban land uses
  • Areas of probably future conflict between conservation and urban land uses
  • Areas of probable future conflict among agricultural, conservation and urban land

LUCIS could be run using any raster-based GIS software, but it has been developed using ESRI's ModelBuilder. The results of a LUCIS model in and of themselves are interesting and very useful, as they suggest what lands are highly appropriate for future development, what lands should be set aside for conservation, and what lands should be set aside for agricultural production of all sorts. But the real power of LUCIS comes from the application of its results to develop alternative land-use futures.



The origin of LUCIS

LUCIS was developed over a period of ten years in a graduate design studio at the University of Florida for students from the departments of landscape architecture and urban and regional planning. It evolved as we struggled with ways to use traditional land-use suitability analysis as a basis for projecting future land-use alternatives. It's conceptual basis was derived from the work of Eugene P. Odum, one of the 20th century's foremost ecologists (See table 2.1). In this classic article "Strategy of Ecosystem Development" (1969, 268) Odum proposes four general land-use types in a simplified model "so that growth-type, steady-state, and intermediate-type ecosystems can be linked with urban and industrial areas for mutual benefit." In Odum's Compartment Model, all areas of the landscape were classified into one of four types: (1) productive areas, "where succession is continually retarded by human controls to maintain high levels of productivity"; (2) protective, "or natural areas, where succession is allowed or encouraged to proceed into the mature, and thus stable, if not highly productive stages"; (3) compromise areas, "where some combination of the first two stages exists"; and (4) urban/industrial, "or biologically non-vital areas."

Odum wrote that by dividing land use into these categories, and “by increasing and decreasing the size and capacity of each compartment through computer simulation, it would be possible to determine objectively the limits that must eventually be imposed on each compartment in order to maintain regional and global balances in the exchange of vital energy and materials.” He called it a “systems-analysis procedure,” and noted that it provided “at least one approach to the solution of the basic dilemma posed by the question ‘How do we determine when we are getting too much of a good thing?’” (268).

Table 2.1 The LUCIS approach is based on the work of Eugene P. Odum, presented  in “Strategy of Ecosystem Development,” 1969.

Odum's Compartment Model Land-Use Classifications
LUCIS's Land-Use Classifications
Productive Agriculture - Lands that produce food, fuel, and fiber
Protective Conservation - Environmentally significant lands
Urban/Industrial Urban - Lands that support relatively intense human activity like residential, commercial and industrial uses


Odum’s Compartment Model was the basis for the LUCIS land classification scheme (Table 2.1). Three, rather than four categories were used for two primary reasons.  First,  comparison among three categories rather than four tends to maximize the contrast among the categories, and second, the three categories relate well to the patterns and purpose of public and private land ownership.


The five steps of LUCIS

The LUCIS model requires that three stakeholder groups, each representing one of the land-use classifications of Table 2.1, serve as advocates for their respective classification. Each group rates all lands in a defined study area for their relative suitability to support their land-use classification. The three results are compared to identify areas of potential conflict. More specifically, this is accomplished through five steps:

  1. Define goals and objectives that become the criteria for determining suitability
  2. Inventory data resources potentially relevant to each goal and objective
  3. Analyze data to determine relative suitability for each goal
  4. Combine the relative suitabilities of each goal to determine preference
  5. Compare the ranges of land-use preference to determine likely areas of future land-use conflict

** Existing agricultural lands include some lands not under active agricultural use.  There are, in fact, wetlands and other tracts of relatively pristine land included in this category.   Since they have no permanent protective status, it would be in appropriate to classify them as conservation lands so they remain in the agricultural lands classification and they are highly vulnerable to change.  Future conservation lands and future urban lands are carved out of existing agricultural lands.