Chapter 5: Integrating Land Use and Landscape Change with Conservation Planning


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BOOK EXCERPT: Increasingly, scientists are concerned about the influence of landcover changes and human activities on the long-term conservation of biodiversity (Foley et al. 2005). In this chapter, I briefly review how land use and landscape change typically are incorporated into conservation planning and describe how human modifications associated with particular land uses can be better integrated within conservation plans. This is important because: “[p]eople and their activities and uses of the landscape must be included in the vision and actions of conservation. . . Numerous challenges and methodological issues are related to quantifying and modeling land-use/landcover dynamics, and many people have argued for the need to develop a science of land change (e.g., Rindfuss et al. 2004; Turner et al. 2007). A key to these discussions is the distinction between landcover and land use. Landcover is “the biophysical state of the earth’s surface and immediate subsurface” (Turner et al. 1995, p. 20; also see Olenicki, chapter 4). Land use is the purpose for which the land is used, which “involves both the manner in which the biophysical attributes are manipulated and the intent underlying that manipulation” (Turner et al. 1995, p. 20). For example, logging, like recreation, is a land use that often occurs on forested landcover types; grazing is a land use occurring on grassland cover; agriculture is a land use, but cropland is a landcover, and wildlife refuge is a land use on wetland cover types...The conservation planning framework provides a general context for both identifying and organizing how spatial data on human activities can be used to examine the ways land use and human activities can modify ecological systems. Building on this framework provides a sturdy foundation to convert this data into an index for each factor (or threat) as well as to combine the indicators into an overall score. Schultz (2001) provides a useful cautionary review of how ad hoc methods have been challenged in the past. There are formal ways to convert data into an index and combine indicators into an overall score, based in multi-attribute utility theory (Hajkowicz 2006), which uses five general steps:
1. Identify relevant threats to include, striving for comprehensiveness and avoiding redundancy when identifying each indicator.
2. Obtain spatial datasets that best represent each threat (indicator), being explicit about what is being measured, what the units are, and what scale (grain) is.
3. Convert raw values for each threat (indicator) into commensurable units, typically standardizing or normalizing them to 0 to 1.0.
4. Specify through a set of weights or equations the relative importance of each indicator.
5. Conduct a sensitivity analysis to examine the robustness of the solution for the specified weighting structure.


David M. Theobald, PhD
US National Park Service
WASO Natural Resource Stewardship and Science
Inventory and Monitoring Program
1201 Oakridge Drive, Suite 150
Fort Collins, Colorado 80525-5596
AUTHOR Publications




Powerpoint/Teaching resources: (TBD)

Wild Lifelines Project
Landscape Connectivity and Pattern (LCaP): tools for ArcGIS

Network and accessibility methods to estimate the human use of ecosystems
Land-Use Dynamics beyond the American Urban Fringe

"Evaluating the Cumulative Effects of Development by Analyzing Alternative Build-Out Scenarios: A Case Study of Ouray County, Colorado" INTERACTIVE MAPS of LAND USE (click on thumbnail to pan & zoom, 'view larger' to open window)


Landsat Time-Enabled Imagery: (view larger) This map demonstrates the use of the standard time slider control to set both an extent of time and a position in time to explore time-enabled data at different temporal scales and analyze change over time using web browser access.



Change Matters Website: allows users throughout the globe to quickly view the GLS Landsat imagery both multi-spectrally (in different Landsat band combinations) and multi-temporally (across epochs), and to conduct simple change detection analysis.

3-Scale & Time
4-Land Cover
5-Land Use
6-Focal Species
7-Habitats: Terrestrial
8-Habitats: Marine/Aq
9-Habitat Cores
11-Viability Analysis
13-Climate Change
14-Processes & Tools

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