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

Wednesday, June 20
GIS in Conservation Science 8:30 - 9:45 
Using GIS for Wildlife Corridor Design in Arizonadd
Emily Garding, Paul Beier, and Daniel Majka, Northern Arizona University, Arizona Missing Linkages Project, USA
Habitat loss and fragmentation are the most important threats to maintaining populations of many of Arizona's wildlife species. We have developed Linkage Designs for 8 areas within Arizona where wildlife habitat connectivity is threatened by transportation projects and other landscape alterations. For each Linkage Zone, we identify focal species, including species that are closely related to ecosystem function or sensitive to fragmentation. We perform Least Cost Corridor Analysis to estimate the optimal location of a landscape linkage between core protected areas based on estimated relationships between the focal species and 4 landscape features, namely: vegetation/land use, topographic features, elevation, and distance to roads. The final Linkage Design consists of the union of all the habitat patches identified as important for movement of each focal species. Each Linkage Design includes detailed recommendations for locations for highway-crossing structures, optimal types of structures, and other opportunities to enhance wildlife movement across potential barriers. These Designs can help agencies, planners, private landowners and other stakeholders work together with a coordinated approach toward conservation and highway safety goals. The linkages assessment is a step forward in protecting Arizona's wildlife as the state addresses the challenges associated with accommodating for the growth of Arizona's population and economy.

Ecosystem vulnerability and emerging threats to biodiversity at Rio Cajari Ecological Reserve in the Brazilian Amazon, Amapá State, Brazil.
Claudia Funi, Institute of Scientific and Technological Researches of the State of Amapá (Instituto de Pesquisas Científicas e Tecnológicas do Estado do Amapá -IEPA), Brazil
Amapá is the state with the greatest proportion of protected areas in the Brazilian Amazon. Approximately 70% of its territory is under some kind of legal protection (indigenous lands, strictly protected or sustainable use protected areas). Although local evidences show major threats to ecosystems integrity inside protected areas, fine scale human activities threatening ecosystems are not qualified or quantified due to intense cloud covering, use of inadequate cartographic databases and to the lack of professionals capable of making complex spatial analyses. In this work we explore GIS analysis techniques for identifying emerging threats to biodiversity and ecosystem vulnerability in Rio Cajari Ecological Reserve (RESEX Cajari). Based on a detailed spatial database we quantify fine scale deforestation patterns and evaluate how these patterns relate to different human activities inside the reserve.

The results of this work give us insights on the major causes of deforestation in Amapá and will subsidize management plans and public policies in the state.

RESEX Cajari is a maintainable use UC, which shelters traditional communities that extract products with no lumbermen (mainly chestnut of Brazil and andiroba). This UC presents different environment types, including rain forest, savannah and flooded. It presents several environmental pressures as small towns, BR 156 road, witch cross UC, fire, unofficial highways, etc. GIS will be use to identify different environment types and pressures in UC, the pressures from extrativista and clandestine use (pasture and highways opening, fire). The traditional people and their respective exploration ranches will also be identified. The results will contribute to RESEX Cajari conservation and administration.


Towards a deeper understanding of extinction risk: interacting factors of biology and human disturbance.
Savrina Flora Carrizo, Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London and the University of Cambridge, UKdd
There are several open questions regarding the spatial patterns of population declines, in particular, how does the geographic range and abundance structure change with a declining population? We aim to find empirical evidence for these spatial patterns. (A flip side of the same question can provide insights into the nature of invasions based on increasing populations.) We also aim to the test the efficacy with which different monitoring strategies are able to detect changes in both abundance and occupancy. An understanding of the spatial patterns of decline can also tell us where conservation efforts would be best focused, for example, whether a landscape approach would be necessary. The aims of the study will be discussed in the context of the data collected from the US Breeding Bird Survey.

Landscape species and threat distributions in the core area of the Western Forest Complex, Thailand.
Sitthichai Jinamoy, WCS, Thailanddd
The Western Forest Complex (WEFCOM), an area of 18,000 km2, is one of the largest protected area systems in Southeast Asia. The WEFCOM's core area is also a natural world heritage site named Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary. Since 2005 WCS Thailand has worked with the Thai government to use a wildlife-based approach called the Living Landscape Program to measure the success of conservation through status of landscape species, threats, and types and degrees of interventions. The landscape species for the area are elephants, tigers, rufous-necked hornbills, and otters. The key intervention is to establish information-based patrolling system that equips rangers with GPS, digital camera, and standardized data forms. The main data coming into the database includes patrol tracks, GPS points of landscape species, and threats. From one year of data recording and preliminary analysis we have found that the approach has helped the sanctuary manager to plan for better protection and management. More comprehensive analysis approach is needed to estimate threat intensity and landscape species distribution.

GIS in Species Ecology 10:15 - 11:30 
Contribution to the bio-ecology of the Grey-necked Picathartes, Picathartes oreas.
Taku Awa II, Cameroon Biodiversity Conservation Society, Cameroondd
Within the Mbam-minkom mountain forest of southern Cameroon is the ground-dwelling Grey-necked Picathartes, classified as "Vulnerable" by IUCN and BirdLife International. It lives in closed canopy forest and constructs it nests with soil on overhangs of rock faces and caves. It is restricted to the Guinea-Congo basin rain forest of central Africa and although its range covers 314,000 km, its population throughout Central Africa is highly fragmented, is still considered small (2,500-1,000 individuals) and may be in overall decline. All over this rock fowl's range, it remains seriously threatened by forest clearance and increasing human disturbance. The lack of suitable breeding sites, particularly rocks, may partly account for its scarcity, while cannibalism and predation probably contribute to low breeding success.

Over the past three years we have been investigating the population status and habitat requirements of this enigmatic bird. Methods involve vegetation surveys, ground truthing, quadrat sampling, pitfall and malaise trapping for assessment of potential food supply, radio-tracking to determine home range, observations from hideouts to uncover behaviour, monitoring and involvement of adjacent communities.

Ninety breeding and 24 potential breeding sites have been mapped with population estimated at 40 mature individuals. Closed canopy intact vegetation needed at least 200 m around breeding sites to provide hideout and foraging ground to this shy bird that feeds on invertebrates, mostly insects and some vertebrates such as small frogs and lizards. Slash and burn agriculture and illegal timber exploitation remain its major threat. Sensitization is ongoing to develop management plans for site protection as a community sanctuary.

GIS analysis on the habitat selection of Imperial Eagles
Gergely Torda, Institute of Ecology and Botany of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Hungary
The Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca) is an endangered species with solely as much as around 80 pairs remaining in Central Europe, most of them in Hungary. With the aim to elaborate an effective science-based conservation plan for the protection of the species, habitat and nesting site selection if individuals has been studied on the course of 2 decades in order to identify the key factors that affect breeding success and juvenile survival rate, inlcuding but not limited to several forms of human disturbance, direct or indirect killing, prey availability and suitable location. All variables were geographically referenced and managed in a GIS database, and analyses were run to determine major threaths to the population, overlap between protected areas and important areas for the species, and identify future conservation measures to be put in place.

Factors affecting the distribution of the Darwin’s rhea in the Auca Mahuida Reserve in Argentine Patagonia
Lorena Fernanda Rivas, Patagonian and Andean Steppe Program, Wildlife Conservation Society, Argentina
The Auca Mahuida Reserve covers almost 80,000 hectares and is one of the least inhabited places in Patagonia. The wildlife of Auca Mahuida is extremely rich and is constituted by species that have disappeared elsewhere or are in a critical situation, such as Darwin's Rhea, a large, flightless, ostrich-like bird. Darwin's Rheas have been reduced more than 80% in some parts of the province of Neuquén and in the rest of Patagonia due to poaching and the illegal collection of their eggs. In Auca Mahuida, this reduction is principally due to poaching in the oil exploration trails created by oil companies active in the area, which provide access for hunters and make control by wildlife rangers more difficult. In order to develop a conservation plan for Darwin's Rhea in Auca Mahuida, the distribution of the species in the reserve was determined by surveys for the last 4 years, the oil trails digitized from satellite images, and livestock density determined by interviews with residents of the area. We analyzed and mapped these and other environmental variables in the landscape to begin to understand how the distribution of Darwin's Rhea is affected by human activities. We are using this information to identify critical areas where conservation efforts for the species should be focused.


GIS in Mammalian Studies 1:30 - 2:45  
The population size, relative abundance and spatial distribution of Critically Endangered Hirola Antelope (Beatragus hunteri) in Ijara and Garissa Districts, Kenya.
Francis Kamau Muthoni, Terra Nuova East Africa, Kenya
The Hirola antelope (Beatragus hunteri) is a "Critically Endangered" species endemic to a small area in Southeast Kenya and Southwest Somalia. The Hirola is one of the world's most endangered genera of large mammals and the only existing member of its genus. The Hirola is now either low in numbers or extinct in Somalia. The natural population in Kenya has declined from roughly 14,000 animals in the 1970s to 500–2,000 today. The decline of the Hirola in its natural range is probably due to a combination of factors including disease, drought, poaching, competition with livestock and habitat loss and degradation.

Developing a Geodatabase to Support Village Land Use Planning and Chimpanzee Conservation in Greater Gombe Ecosystem Tanzania
Jovin Lwehabura, The Jane Goodall Institute Tanzania, Greater Gombe Ecosystem Program, Tanzania
Located in western Tanzania, Greater Gombe Ecosystem includes Gombe National Park and adjacent village lands and forests within 30-40 km from the park important for chimpanzees. The Greater Gombe Ecosystem program aims to restore and conserve chimpanzee habitats outside the park and at the same time improve the livelihood of the people. One of its main objectives is to establish in cooperation with thirteen local communities and District Government a network of Village Forest Reserves and participatory village land use plans as required by Tanzanian law. A GIS Database was developed using ArcView 3.3 and MS Access to inform and monitor community based conservation efforts. In this paper I will discuss how GIS helped village land use teams understand village landscapes, chimpanzee habitat needs, communicate this knowledge to diverse stakeholders and develop a final village land use map accepted by the villagers and Tanzanian Government.

Endemism Mammals Distribution in Peru's Montane Forestsdd
Heidi Luisiana Quintana Navarrete, San Marcos Grand Public University, Museum of Natural History, Mammals Department, Peru
Peru's Montane Forest shelters the higher endemic species diversity; however, we must recognize other higher endemism places. To analyze the distributions, the geographic barriers were used to separate mammal populations. However, the behaviour species biology and the deforestation determine the real distribution.

Landscape analysis of São João River Basin and its use by the golden lion tamarindd
Ana Maria de Godoy Teixeira, Associação Mico-Leão-Dourado – Golden Lion Tamarin Association, Brazil
The fragmented forest of the São João River Basin represents the last remaining habitats for the golden lion tamarin, an endemic and threatened species that occurs only in Rio de Janeiro's Atlantic Forest. For this, AMLD and partners work hard to make and to keep most of these protected and to restore the connectivity of this landscape using corridors and agro-forestry systems. GIS Laboratory of the AMLD developed recently a methodology to have a ranking of these fragments, given values in accordance with a better or worse response to our actions. We study the composition and configuration of these fragments in the São João river basin landscape: (i.) How does golden lion tamarin use this landscape? (ii.) Is the restoration of vegetation beside the rivers important to connectivity? (iii.) Do small fragments have important role for the matrix permeability? Analysis of different variables (distance to rivers, roads, cities) in relation to forest fragments and no forest unities plus behavior of the golden lion tamarin allow us to give values for these fragments, too. We used, as basis, a Landsat-7 satellite image (2000), and, with this: (i.) delimited forest and no forest unities, (ii.) made distance buffers for different variables,
(iii.) calculated landscape metrics, (iv.) made analysis in order to define the values for this forest and no forest areas according to the influence of these variables and landscape metrics, (v.) made a virtual restoration beside rivers to calculate the improvement on connectivity, (vi.) simulated movement capability of golden lion tamarin in no forest areas. These results allow us to make different suggestions for each part of the landscape, including forest corridor or agro-forestry implementation, improvement of matrix permeability, creation of protected areas and maintenance of small fragments.

GIS in Elephant-Human Conflict  3:15 - 4:30
Problem animal control strategies in human - elephant conflict areas of Dande communal area, Zimbabwe.dd
Tendai Nancy Nyabadza, African Wildlife Foundation, Zimbabwe
Human-elephant conflict is a major conservation and management issue across Africa. With most elephant range existing outside protected areas and agriculture rapidly expanding, the potential for conflict increases. Rural farmers in many areas are severely affected by conflict with wildlife. The purpose of this research was to assess levels of conflict between the Dande community of the Mid-Zambezi valley in Zimbabwe and the elephants (Loxodonta africana), the spatial distribution and nature of conflict, and the effectiveness of problem animal control (PAC) strategies implemented by the villagers in terms of ensuring the community's livelihood security.

Four villages in Guruve District, namely Chadope, Museruka, Bwazi and Chikafa, were sampled for the study. Another two were sampled in Muzarabani for the research, namely Masawi and Chiwashira. In each village, ten households were selected for interviews using a structured questionnaire. In total, 55 questionnaire interviews were conducted and the data was analyzed using SPSS program. For data synthesis, focus group discussions were later held in the six villages. Attendance was optional to the entire village. Average attendance for the six discussions was 22 villagers.

In all six villages, the elephant was cited as the most difficult problem animal, followed by the baboon and then the bush pig. For each problem animal and across the villages, the main point of conflict is the cropping field, followed by the gardens and then homesteads in five of the villages. Forty-seven percent of the interviewed farmers reported that elephants prefer maize compared to other crops grown in their community. Annual average acreage damaged by elephants in all the villages, with the exception of Bwazi village, has been decreasing in subsequent seasons since 2000.

Villagers apply combinations of both traditional and modern PAC strategies to curb the extent of conflict with elephants at the various conflict points as the elephants quickly habituate to the use of one method at a time reducing the method's effectiveness. According to the villagers, those villages that are making use of the modern methods such as burning chili dung having less difficulty in chasing or deterring crop raiders than those that are still using only the traditional PAC methods. One of the most promising modern strategies involves application of a chili pepper solution around the cropping fields which has proven to be an effective repellent of elephants and one that they do not habituate to. Utilization of this method is, however, constrained by lack of supply. There is a need to establish a good source for chili pepper for the community to enhance the level of livelihood security for the community.

In conclusion, the PAC strategies that the Dande community is using against elephants, especially the modern methods, are quite effective in the field. Meanwhile, the long-term biological effects of the ingredients in the chili pepper need to be established to ensure that in using the peppers, it is not going to have a negative effect on the species.

A study on status of elephant human conflict in northern West Bengal, India
Anisha Thapa, Asian Elephant Research and Conservation Centre (AERCC), A Division of Asian Nature Conservation Foundation (ANCF), India
Northern West Bengal (North Bengal) forests harbor about 2% of total elephant population in India. However, it experiences the most intense elephant human conflict (EHC). To assess the status of the EHC level and understand the causal factors of conflicts, a GIS and remote sensing based study was carried out in the elephant habitats of North Bengal. EHC incidence density was calculated from secondary data and GIS data. Correlations of EHC with fragmentation indices (calculated using GIS) and human population density were then examined. EHC occurred in the form of crop damages, house damages, and injuries and deaths of humans and elephants. EHC intensity was calculated to be 1.54 incidents per km2 per year while human deaths alone was 50+ per year on an average. Conflict cases soared during maize (May-July) and paddy (October-November) harvest seasons and it waned during dry (February-March) season. Positive correlations were found between EHC and fragmentation indices (number of forest patches, perimeter/area ratio) and human population density. A negative correlation was found with mean patch size. This indicates that EHC in North Bengal is largely due to the fragmentation of their habitat, which has been compounded by the increasing human population density in the region.

Use of GIS in Human Elephant Conflict mitigation through community integrated approaches in small conservation organizations.
George Chandeep Dishanker Corea, Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society, Sri Lanka
GIS systems that are used to analyze and predict human-elephant conflict (HEC) usually use large-scale grids that do not satisfactorily look at addressing the problem at the local/community level. In more than 90 percent of the cases, they aren't used by the local communities or regional planning/administrative bodies and are hardly ever built in a participatory system. The largest benefit of GIS is that the technology reduces the information vacuum due to its ability to combine, catalogue and process divergent information sources, and it can be used to create a visual result that can be interpreted and utilized by decision makers at all levels. And community members can look at well- executed maps and understand why human-elephant conflict is occurring. Even international leaders in RS/GIS technology and the Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI), have realized that "the cooperation of local people is essential to the action that will be needed to protect and manage the earth's environment. To achieve this, there must be ready access to resources information at the local level and well-established methods for incorporating local knowledge and priorities in any larger-scale decisions." (

The Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society, a small research-based conservation organization, has started to implement these largely theoretical concepts into its pioneering "Saving Elephants by Helping People (SEHP)" project, which was initiated in 1997. The envisaged output of this process is the integration of RS/GIS outputs into community-level planning that has measurable impact on the sustainable conservation of resources.

- Creating resource-use maps for planning of SLWCS Wasgamuwa Research activities
- Developing community-level maps for villages to better manage their own resources
- Publishing fine-level GIS data relating to a community, its resources and HEC in Wilgamuwa DSD
- Establishing a better understanding of GIS methodologies/application at field level
- Creating baseline GIS/RS for conservation planning as envisaged by SEHP in the broader context
- Composing a comparative analysis with other GIS-based elephant studies in Sri Lanka and Asia

The purpose of developing this project is to enhance our knowledge of the ecosystem so that it can be used to enhance our understanding of the HEC and poverty problems, to explicitly state our assumptions, and to identify what data are missing and what data are most important. We will then use the resultant model/outputs for effective conservation.

When we look at just the 18 villages in the Wilgamuwa Division of the Matale District where we conducted an in-depth HEC survey, we get a good picture of how intense the conflict between man and elephant really is. A total of 348 incidents of damage were recorded from June 2004 to May 2006. Of this, 262 incidents were crop damage, which included 187 (71%) paddy and 75 (29%) home garden incidents. Human injury included one human death in 2004, two deaths in 2005 and four deaths in 2006. All of those killed were men, and they were reported to have been killed by single bull elephants. In the same period, there were five confirmed elephant deaths, four of which were due to gun shot injuries and poisoning. We have also been continually monitoring the fences we and the government established and the effectiveness of the management/maintenance of them. As we look at this data it is important to use GIS to paint a good picture for both the local community and national stakeholders of the need for proper management planning at a landscape level. The government of Sri Lanka is about to embark on the final phase of an irrigation development project, which has already caused much destruction of forest and necessitated the movement of over 100,000 people since its inception in the 1980s. The study area lies in the center of this project, and we are well poised to help the government and local communities minimize the negative impacts in the medium and long term while ensuring that necessary sustainable development takes place.

Some of the work will be based on the Amboseli GIS project, "Predicting HEC through GIS."






Copyright © ESRI and each respective author/contributor listed herein.
compilation : Charles Convis, ESRI Conservation Program, May 2007 & 2016
Send your comments to: ecp2 at esri dot com