Proceedings of the 2007 ESRI Conservation GIS conference

(June 18 - 22, 2007, San Diego, California, USA)

Conservation Track Tuesday. Wednesday. Thursday.

Conservation Hall Theater 1: SCGIS International Conservation Track

Thursday, June 21
GIS for Critical Conservation Areas  8:30 - 9:45
Using Geographical Information System and remote sensing techniques to monitor Important Bird Areas in Africa
George Were Eshiamwata, BirdLife Africa Partnership Secretariat, Kenya
With the growing large-scale modification and alteration of natural ecosystems, a fundamental challenge facing conservationists, conservation planners and policy makers is the need to effectively monitor and detect the spatial and temporal changes in biodiversity associated with the ever increasing human activities and other natural phenomena. There is therefore an urgent need to develop and promote the use of tools, methodologies and protocols that will ensure efficient, sustainable and cost-effective monitoring of biodiversity. This study aims to demonstrate the potential of remote sensing as a tool for monitoring biodiversity at the BirdLife-designated Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in Africa. This tool will be applied on Africa IBAs and will have the potential for application elsewhere within the Global BirdLife Partnership.

Key Biodiversity Areas in Guinea
Mamady Kobélé Kéita, Guinee Ecologie, Guinea
The Guinean Forests of West Africa is one of the most highly fragmented of the 34 global Biodiversity hotspots. Adequately conserving Biodiversity unique to this hotspot requires identification of sites where conservation must be undertaken within the larger region. Two previous efforts to do this have either been data-driven but not multi-taxa (Important Bird Areas) or multi-taxa but not data-driven (West Africa Priority Setting Workshop in 1999). We extended these by identifying Key Biodiversity Areas, sites of global significance for Biodiversity Conservation as a data-driven, multi-taxon approach.

We synthesized and analyzed fine-scale distributional data for 72 globally threatened species across 6 taxonomic groups and identified a total of 28 Key Biodiversity Areas covering 14,748 km2.

With geographic information gained on these sites, we've set the first Guinean Key Biodiversity Areas map.

Unfortunately accurate boundaries of most of these KBAs have not been assessed recently. As the second step of our conservation action, we'd like to demonstrate to decision-makers, using GIS tools, how severe the habitat loss is for threatened species by comparing two periods of time. This work could also help in planning conservation actions within these sites.


Priority Areas Identification for Conservation Actions in the South of Ecuador
Gioconda Amarilis Remache Benavides, EcoCiencia - Ecuadorian Foundation for Ecological Studies, Ecuador
The development of nonsustainable human activities has degraded the natural environment and created fragmented landscapes. This research proposes the conservation of natural areas, promoting its connectivity through the combination of priority areas identification methods, and GIS tools. The priority areas identification is based on the ecological integrity analysis and pressures-threatens criteria. The ecological integrity concept is based on landscape ecology theories, which considers landscape's function, composition and structure criteria. Moreover, it applies other concepts such as conservation corridors and umbrella species habitat modeling (by using multivariate statistical techniques) in order to support the previous definitions. On the other hand, the development of activities such as the mining industry, the presence of people with nonconservationist culture, or simply the availability of access ways in places closed to natural areas have fundamental roles in the landscape degradation framework. These activities become pressures and threats that attempt against the ecological integrity. GIS techniques become the basic tool that supports all the processes, and with which spatial referenced products were obtained. Those cartographic products are easily communicable, in order to show the areas where the conservation, recovery, and restoration planning is necessary. At the same time, these maps are useful to visualize the conservation nucleus areas which would become the focal centers for the conservation corridors design.

Conservation of “Paratilapia Polleni” or sp.Marakely
Dina Malalaniaina Fabrice Rajaonarivahoaka, Association Vondrona Avotra, Madagascar
Our intervention area is the Commune of Andrahanjo, situated in the northern part of Madagascar. Most residents of the area are farmers. Some of them practice breeding endemic and seriously menaced fish, named Paratilapia Polleni or sp. marakely, on five hectares. There were only nine families in 2000 and twenty-eight families in 2007 involved in this activity; they get help from Public Water and Forests Services technical department.

A lot of dangers menace this species: degradation of habitat and aquatic ecosystem due to deforestation, erosion, hydrologic regime change, overexploitation of aquatic resources, and invasion of exotic concurrent and predatory species. Also, the people fail to recognize the Malagasy aquatic heritage because of lack of information and communications between different actors concerned with the endemic type of Malagasy aquatic species.

In face of dangers to this fish species, our association just carried out many concrete actions:

-   IEC having as principal objective the sensitization of all responsible actors: decision-makers, economic operators, authorities, local communities
-   Conservation of habitat in order to restore ecologic balance
-   Set up of breeding in captivity for conservation of menaced species
-   Fight against invasion of exotic predatory species like Ocphiocephalus striatus 

Because their ponds are far from the main road, they are required to rent carts at high costs or sell products at very low prices to the local retailers who dry fish. These retailers sell the fish at high prices five or six months later.

The objective of this project is mainly the reproduction and the conservation of the species which is seriously menaced. Consequently, our association works with many technical partners like Ministry of forests and environment, local authorities and fish breeders. The marketing of products will be planned in 2008. At least, the fish breeders will preserve the fish species and will benefit from fish sale. They would easily produce eight hundred kilogrammes every quarter and this operation would be able to earn about $2,400. Financially, this is of course very rewarding. However, these profits would not be regular owing to thieves who steal at night, vandalism acts, and variations in market demand.

All the same, the objectives of this group of "Paratilapia breeders" are to:

 - increase number of fish ponds for conservation and multiplication of the species
 - master all modern fish-rearing techniques
 - find more outlets in the capital city or in towns in the province of Tamatave (supermarkets, restaurants) for next year campaign 2008
 - multiply contacts and relationship with private or public technical breeding departments
 - become the first conservator and producer of this species in Madagascar
 - reinforce the members' capacities and competences about conservation, sale strategy and market law

In the end, conservation of this endemic fish needs a lot of care because this species only exists in Madagascar and intensive fishing may wipe it out. The fish producers always need permanent technical assistance from specialists for reproduction in order to preserve the species.

Our project will be presented with ArcGIS 8.3 with help from SCGIS-Madagascar

GIS tools for Land Use and Open Space Conservation   10:15 - 11:30
Prioritizing Open Space Acquisition Areas in Rapidly Developing Coastal California: Balancing Conflicting Recreation, Biological and Aesthetic Concerns Through Simple Modeling and GIS
Jamie Lyn King, Ventura Hillsides Conservancy, USA
The Ventura Hillsides Conservancy (VHC) is a fledgling non-profit conservation organization seeking to acquire open space areas in the rapidly developing western Ventura County, California, USA for the purpose of biological conservation and providing recreation and educational opportunities for area residents and visitors. Over 50 sensitive plant and animal species and communities and 100 cultural resource sites occur in this area.

In 2004, the VHC sponsored a Master’s Group Project with the Donald Bren School of Environmental Science and Management (Bren) at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). The project developed a system using GIS spatial analyst to assist the VHC in prioritizing parcels of land within an 18,600-acre area of the Ventura hillsides for acquisition. In 2005, VHC in coordination with their consultants Rincon Consultants and Greenwood and Associates and supported by a $200,000 California Coastal Conservancy grant, expanded and fine-tuned the analysis to cover a 66,000-acre “Interest Area” centered around the open space areas north of the City of Ventura.

To analyze the conservation values of the Interest Area (IA), the GIS-based model scored individual parcels based on their cumulative resource values. The resource values (rubrics) evaluated for each parcel include Biological, Visual, and Recreation Resources. Each rubric was broken down into the following associated criteria as follows:

Biological Resources: Habitat Rarity, Documented Presence of Sensitive Species, Sensitive Species Habitat, Wetland Abundance/Value, Development Threat, Habitat Contiguity, Wildlife Corridor, Restoration Cost

Recreation: Public Access, Habitat Diversity, Grade Variability, Cultural Resources, Trail Connectivity, Scenic Resources

Aesthetics: Disturbance, Positive Features, View Contiguity

For each parcel, a score was identified for each criterion within a rubric. Scores ranged from (1) to (4), with (4) having the highest resource quality and (1) having the lowest. The average of all criteria scores within a rubric provided a total rubric score. Each rubric total score was weighted to balance the relative importance of each to the VHC.

The scoring system was applied to the expanded IA by revising individual criteria and their associated data layers, in order to reflect the expanded IA boundaries and newly collected data since the original UCSB study. Additionally, the analysis was modified to incorporate consideration for cultural, historical, hydrological, and geological resources, as well as development threat potential. In addition to the Criteria Scoring System analysis, technical studies of cultural, historical, hydrological, and geological resources and development potential and discussions with local experts and resource agencies were used to further refine the analysis of parcels suitable for acquisition.

The result of the model analysis revealed several key areas of high quality resources and allowed the VHC to hone in on key areas for property acquisition. This is important as all non-profits have limited time and resources. The GIS analysis and supporting technical studies have given VHC the tools to focus their efforts in contacting property owners, developing positive relationships, and applying limited funding sources towards property acquisition and management. The GIS analysis is intended to be a ”living document” that can be updated as acquisitions are made and conditions change.

Difficulties faced in Mapping Work to secure Traditional Land Rights from Industrial Development in Papua New Guinea (Managalas Experience).
Jacinta Mimigari, Partners with Melanesians (PWM), Papua New Guinea
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
3 Dimensional (3D) Model. The 3D Model will help us complete Managalas Plateau boundary mapping to secure the plateau and protect the resources of the 17,000+ people from industrial development.

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.


Conservation Covenants in TLC: a ten year retrospective
Christina Louise Waddle , The Land Conservancy of British Columbia, Canada
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.

Identification of Landslide Danger in Coastal Chiapas, Mexico
Spencer Thomas Schnier, Pronatura Chiapas, Mexico
The recurrence of meteorological phenomena such as landslides and the impact that they have provoked in the sierra and coast of Chiapas have motivated institutions, civil organizations and citizens to mobilize to improve their knowledge and act to confront the aforementioned events. To recognize the threat posed by landslides and identify areas with greater probability of occurrence improves the design of prevention and mitigation mechanisms. This article explains the development of two maps of landslide danger designed for the coastally located municipalities of Arriaga and Pijijiapan and also presents a methodology that resulted from an adaptation of the "Guide for the Elaboration of State and Municipal Atlases of Danger and Risk" published by the National System of Civil Protection and the National Center for Disaster Prevention (CENPRED, 2004). The methodology consists of a qualitative and empirical analysis that estimates hillside susceptibility to landslides based on a set of weighted values that consider the contributions of seven variables: elevation, slope, precipitation, geology, vegetation, water accumulation and areas of recurrent landslides. The analysis was conducted using geographic information systems based on the program ArcInfo 9 from ESRI. The data from each of the variables was reclassified, and each new class received a weighted value from one to twenty given that the highest values were those factors that contributed more to landslide danger. The assigned values were adapted from the findings reported by CENAPRED (2004). Finally, a spatial summation of the seven reclassified variables was used to obtain and classify accumulated values that accurately correspond to landslide danger.







Copyright © ESRI and each respective author/contributor listed herein.
compilation : Charles Convis, ESRI Conservation Program, May 2007 & 2020
Send your comments to: ecp2 at esri dot com