Proceedings of the 2007 SCGIS Annual Meeting
(June 25 - 27, 2007, Asilomar, Monterey, California, USA)
Track 1: Conservation and Community
TUESDAY 11-12:30 Session 1a: Showcase: Conservation GIS in Society
A Conceptualization of Cartographic Practice
Many commentators view cartographic practice dichotomously, as art and science. Clearly, this betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of art, of science, and of cartography. This paper aims to set forth a conceptual framework for cartography that makes obvious the shortcomings of such a division of a unified practice. The findings of the Conceptual Art movement are used to examine several aspects of cartographic practice and to investigate the advantage of employing such a conceptual framework.
Designing NEON: The National Ecological Observatory Network
The National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) is an infrastructure-intensive project funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation, designed to facilitate an advanced understanding of how ecosystems and organisms respond to variations in climate and changes in land use. This will be accomplished by developing an infrastructure-rich, integrated, and distributed observatory that will be used as a foundation for continental-wide experimental research, manipulation, and monitoring. It is anticipated that this observatory will be the basis to facilitate environmental investigation as identified by the National Research Council in Grand Challenges in Environmental Sciences (2001, National Academies Press). As the first long-term ecological observatory to conduct continental-scale research, NEON will be equipped with standardized sensors, cyberinfrastructure, and uniform data collection procedures to support investigator-driven ecological research. In addition, collected data will be integrated into existing programs at all learning levels including citizen scientists. This talk will present an overview of NEON, the engineering and test bed systems being developed at the James Reserve, and how the network will involve communities and individuals in improving our understanding of the effects of climate change and land use on ecosystems and biodiversity.
Assessing the Effectiveness of Conservation Easements at Protecting Biodiversity
Conservation easements have become the principal tool that land trusts use to preserve habitat and open space in the face of human development pressure. However, the effectiveness of easements has been called into question as there are few analytical studies which quantify the impact of easements on conservation targets (i.e., sensitive species and habitats). To fill this knowledge gap, we used a predictive model to forecast housing densities in the Bighorn Foothills of Sheridan County, Wyoming, with and without easements in place. We used logistic regression to predict the location of new homes on a 50-year time scale, and with the results, compared the proportion of sensitive habitat patches that transition to exurban or greater housing densities under the easement and no-easement scenarios. The iterative regression model was based on spatially-dependent variables including proximity to natural amenities, human services, and other homes, which we calculated in a GIS for each 10-year model time step. We generated the final model results in a GIS and used them to compute the mean housing density on all conservation targets. Our results indicate that while conservation easements are not being placed in areas where they can do the most good, conservation targets benefit from lower levels of development when easements are present. This effect transcends the boundaries of the easements themselves. That is, by redirecting patterns of rural growth, having easements present on the landscape resulted in lower home densities on patches of high-value habitat, even when those patches were not directly under easement.
The NGO Conservation GIS Lab Challenge
This presentation will focus on the history, challenges and impacts of the implementation of the Conservation GIS program in the environmental conservation group called Pronatura in Northwestern Mexico. We will discuss some of the difficulties of starting a GIS lab and managing and keeping it alive in a country with an emerging economy.
Using GIS/GPS for Protected-Area Management in Honduras by LLU
Over the last three years, Loma Linda University (LLU), Department of Earth and Biological Sciences, in collaboration with several NGO partners and foreign donors (e.g., the USAID-MIRA project) has carried out biodiversity conservation research and "sustainability" application projects in Honduras and Belize in Northern Mesoamerica. Efforts have focused on assessment of the status of the Antillean Manatee on the Atlantic Coast, assessment of the health of the dry-tropical forest ecosystem and its herpetofauna on the Pacific Coast, and training local NGO and university partners in the use of GPS/GIS for various protected-area management work including building a local-level SDI (spatial data infrastructure), environmental education, ecotourism planning and marketing, conservation monitoring, and land use/land cover (LULC) change analysis. The Principal Investigator Robert E. Ford will summarize the status of our activities and lessons learned from collaborating with the local partners which include work by students and faculty from LLU and the University of Redlands, MS GIS program.
TUESDAY 2-3:30 Session 1B: Communities, Trusts and Stakeholders
Community Access to Natural Resources Information
The four-year AU$4 million Community Access to Natural Resources Information (CANRI) program brought together ten New South Wales government agencies to provide integrated online access to around 200 map layers and more than 20 tailored Web sites. These products, covering a broad range of natural resource topics including native vegetation, biodiversity, soils and water quality are available through the NSW Natural Resource Atlas at www.nratlas.nsw.gov.au. CANRI was a successful whole-of-government project that has provided both valuable direct benefits to the community and a solid basis for continuing progress. This success was dependent upon having: (1) shared aims that require collaboration; (2) a lead agency committed to its success; (3) a representative governance structure including community stakeholders; (4) adequate funding; (5) good personal relationships based on regular, long-term contact; and (6) a sound technical strategy built on a solid understanding of business needs.
Oil and Gas Development: Helping Stakeholders Visualize Future Development
There is currently tremendous pressure on land managers to expedite oil and gas development on public lands across the West. Planning for development is typically done without spatial analysis of the distribution and density of infrastructure and its spatial relationship to wildlife resources. The authors developed a spatial build-out scenario of oil and gas development across the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) 4.2 million acre Little Snake Resource Area in northwest Colorado. First, the results provided quantitative data to assess habitat fragmentation and project wildlife impacts. For example, under the proposed management plan 18% of pronghorn winter range is at risk of being abandoned due to reduced habitat patch size, and 77% of mule deer winter range is at risk for a reduction in habitat use from indirect disturbance from infrastructure. Secondly, the build-out scenario graphics provide communication and collaboration opportunities with stakeholder groups. Maps of the build-out scenario convert substantial written and tabular planning documents into a single illustration of the future development plans. Maps of the build-out scenario and wildlife resources were shared with managers at the BLM, cooperating government agencies, and conservationists. The results of these meetings garnered tremendous attention as potentially the first spatial representation of a full BLM oil and gas management plan, improved the ecological recommendations from collaborating agencies, deepened relationships with nontraditional partners, encouraged stakeholders to share data and information, and established scientific credibility.
Using GIS-Based Systematic Conservation Planning Tools to Engage Stakeholders in Environmental Mitigation Planning Efforts
Environmental mitigation often occurs project-by-project, leading to piecemeal habitat conservation implementation and planning and a lack of regional connectivity to other conservation efforts. This paper tests the utility of systematic conservation planning principles to prioritize land parcels for use in the biological mitigation of impacts from multiple transportation projects in the Elkhorn Slough watershed, California, USA. Biological mitigation goals for the watershed were determined in conjunction with local stakeholders, land managers, and California Department of Transportation biologists. The Marxan decision support software for reserve design was used to determine the optimal regional conservation system for this watershed, based on the biological mitigation goals. Individual parcels were then prioritized for use in mitigation based on the irreplaceability of each parcel to the overall conservation plan. The prioritization of parcels determined by the Marxan model was compared with parcels identified as critical for conservation in the watershed by local experts. A high level of agreement was found between the Marxan model output and the local-expert opinion selected parcels. This project demonstrates the benefits to both environmental conservation and land use planning by incorporating systematic conservation planning principles into the environmental mitigation planning process.
Christina Louise Waddle
Conservation Covenants in TLC: A Ten Year Retrospective
In 1994, the Land Title Act in British Columbia was amended to allow designated nongovernmental organizations in British Columbia to hold conservation covenants (equivalent to a conservation easement in the U.S.). Three years later, The Land Conservancy was formed in response to the tremendous development pressures and vulnerable biodiversity in southern British Columbia. In 1998, TLC was designated to hold conservation covenants and registered their first covenant. In January 2007, TLC now holds over 150 covenants in the Vancouver Island region alone. In these ten years, TLC has learned a great deal about how to write and monitor covenants effectively.
Steps in the covenant process include landowner application, TLC review, possible survey and appraisal, baseline documentation, covenant document drafting and finally legal registration. From here, the covenant is monitored annually. The covenants that TLC hold range from large tracts of undeveloped land to small protected areas surrounding a residential use area (known as "development covenants"). Ecosystems protected include wetlands, grasslands, old growth forest, Garry Oak meadows and many, many more. Protection by covenant is effective because it protects land that might otherwise be developed at a lower cost, but covenants also carry challenges.
One challenge includes keeping on top of our annual monitoring obligations. The annual covenant monitoring visit usually includes a visit with the landowner, a check on the ecological state of the covenant area and a determination as to whether the covenant restrictions have been met by the landowner. Sometimes a violation will be discovered on a monitoring visit. Ideally, the violation will be georeferenced using a GPS unit and metes and bounds from a nearby survey point. To date, this has not been done with a GPS or GIS geo-referencing capability, but this would be ideal as we move toward best practice.
Solutions to these and other challenges may be sought by researching the history of covenants or easements in the U.S. and other parts of Canada where there is a longer history for this type of land protection. TLC is committed to improving our existing covenant management and ensuring new covenants we acquire protect land for generations to come.
Difficulties Faced in Mapping Work to Secure Traditional Land Rights from Industrial Development in Papua, New Guinea (Managalas Experience)
Managalas Plateau, an area of 360,000 hectares, is a land of rugged terrain, slopes, and rivers with a large area of undisturbed tropical rainforest. With a population of 17,000+ the Managalas people are attached to their forest and depend entirely on the natural resources for their livelihood. With the destruction of the forest through large-scale extractive development projects like logging, mining and agriculture, their cultural heritage, livelihood and future disappear with the forest. Biodiversity surveys have also found the area to be rich in unique and endemic species of flora and fauna. Therefore it is of great importance to have this unique area protected from these destructive industrial developments.
Boundary mapping of the area had already started but had not progressed after 4 years because of many factors such as rough terrain, lack of GIS skills, conflicts between the locals, etc.
The Organization had attended a training conducted by the Centre for Training in Agriculture and Rural Development (CTA) in Fiji in March/April 2005 on participatory
Our wish for the future is that once the plateau is secured from destructive development processes, then we hope to use GIS and fill the details and generate maps of the plateau.
The 3D Model and GIS approaches and technique became an accepted practice by the governments in the Pacific region for conservation, resource planning, management and utilization and other uses.
Continued sharing of experiences and networking with practitioners and partners in participatory approaches internationally can assist us in our work of conservation, community development and especially poverty alleviation for our beloved people who live in rural areas that we work in.
TUESDAY 4-5:30 Session 1C: Conservation Online
Atlas Server—a Tool for Atlas Mapping
The number of users interested in spatial information has increased enormously during the last years. Currently we have such popular projects as Google Maps, GlobeXplorer, Digital Earth that allow us to receive maps and space imagery via the Internet.
But in many fields of professional activities, and in particular in nature conservation and ecological monitoring, one needs thematic maps and, more than that, thematic atlases. To develop such atlases and provide an Internet access to them we can use common Web map servers as ArcIMS, ESRI; MapXtreme, MapInfo Corp.; Autodesk Map Guide; GeoMedia Web Map and others.
There also exist free map servers such as Minnesota Map Server.
But the problem is that almost all these map servers give common GIS functionality and are oriented on the creation of arbitrary maps. So developers must have some professional GIS experience and cartographic experience to develop GIS applications.
Our approach differs from those mentioned above. Application GIS server named Atlas Server developed in our organization offers to a developer thematic GIS services presenting thematic atlases. Atlas Server represents the middle tier in the distributed GIS applications of 3-tiered architecture. It consists of 4 parts: GIS server, thematic GIS services, forming map display component and standard GIS functionality component.
Every thematic GIS service contains several maps with their legends, information objects and nonstandard functionality. So it allows to develop Web and DCOM applications working with thematic atlases.
Currently 4 GIS services were developed including GIS service for recreation, tourism and protected areas. Atlas Server works in Windows environment, using Internet Information Server as Web server and SVG technology for displaying vector maps.
David F. S. Leman
GIS Server for Small Nonprofits
Wild Utah Project provides critical analysis to a community of conservation activists, agencies, and the general public. Our ability to express the conservation story through the GIS analysis process is central in shaping the health of watersheds in our region. We also embraced a new community through a partnership with DharmaTech, a nonprofit group focused on information technology. Together, we involved enterprise GIS users, experts in information technology, local computer suppliers, and internet service providers in the design of a GIS server for our small organization. We believe that many similar organizations will benefit from this work.
The enormity of the data that can be involved in complex GIS analysis used to promote our conservation work has driven our small organization to the edge of a frightening cliff. Increasingly, we, the conservation GIS community, have become more critically important as decisions on the fate of wild habitat become driven by GIS analysis and data. Over time, the volume of data we use has exceeded a terabyte and is beyond the capability of our GIS workstations. Backups become so difficult that they are not adequately performed. In order to move from one project to the next, we often have to clear a workstation loaded with past projects. In addition, as each GIS user performs projects in their own unique way, data are unorganized and fragmented. Supporting past GIS work increasing takes more time and may not be possible.
We recognized the need to move to the next level and this means larger data storage and a sound approach to organize our work. The standard approach suggests that we would create a GIS server and a backup system that uses ArcSDE on a Windows server. This would require additional skills that we now don't have and cost us around $30,000 in hardware alone.
We decided to explore a lower cost path that fits our budget. Our solution was a Linux-based two-terabyte GIS server and backup disk array. We expect that our local computer supplier can reproduce this for about $3,700. Working with DharmaTech, we have assembled a crack Linux team that can install this for about $1,000. Our GIS needs for a network server are met by using the file-based geodatabase capability found on ArcGIS 9.2.
After testing, now underway, is completed, we will complete a guide on how others can replicate this project.
PlanMapper: An Online Application for Searching Strategic Land Use Plans—Its Origins, Functionality, and the Potential Extension of the PlanMapper Concepts to Conservation GIS in Various Jurisdictions
This paper will outline the history of the business case and subsequent development of the PlanMapper application for online searching of strategic land use plan information in British Columbia, Canada, via a Web mapping tool. The fundamental concepts and architecture of both the Web mapping tool and its underlying database will be presented. The presentation will include an online demonstration of the end-user Web site and will also include a view of the secure online Plan Maintenance Tool by which plans are loaded into and maintained or edited within the database. Extensions of this technology to conservation-related programs and initiatives, particularly in Africa, will be examined.
Building an Online Community
ZipcodeZoo.com is working toward building an online community of naturalists through mechanisms such as
Wikipedia-style (but controlled) User Edits
Image, movie, and sound upload capability
Forum to help identify critters from images
Content Management permitting scientists from around the world to submit papers and interact concerning the future of the wild world
Animated maps showing how populations migrate through the seasons or change over the years
Statistical analysis for detecting declining populations
Tailored listing of species local to any area
Outreach to photographers through e-mail interaction, creation of contact pages, slideshows, etc.
This presentation will briefly review how 2 people built a site of 2 million pages with over 1.1 million maps and 200,000 photos in just over 2 years. Also covered: what seems to work best in building the user community, automation topics, resource and skill requirements.
The Northern Appalachian Ecoregion: From Collaborative Science to Online Mapping Tools
The Northern Appalachian ecoregion spans a complex administrative and ecological geography from New York State (U.S.A.) to Nova Scotia (Canada). Achieving ecoregion-wide transboundary conservation is a challenge that conservation scientists from across the region are addressing under the umbrella of the conservation consortium Two Countries, One Forest (2C1Forest). Four conservation planning initiatives have been completed including a Conservation Design by The Nature Conservancy and the Nature Conservancy Canada, a Wildlands Network Design by the Wildlands Project, a regional Human Footprint by the Wildlife Conservation Society Canada and 3 scenarios of Future Human Footprint by 2C1Forest. Work is now underway to synthesize the results of these projects and provide an assessment of the ecoregion in terms of conservation importance and threat that will identify priority areas for conservation action. While compiling the geographic data required of these transboundary projects represents a remarkable achievement in itself, the next challenge is to get the results of these projects into the hands of the conservation community in the ecoregion that is characterized by limited GIS and mapping capacity. With the support of the Canadian government and the Northern Appalachian conservation community we are well on our way.