AbstractsGeography &GIS

Spatial data and modelling for the prioritisation of conservation areas in the Alpine region of the Canton of Vaud

by Ana Rute Cardoso

Institution: Universidade Nova
Year: 2016
Keywords: Prioritisation; Conservation planning; GIS; Zonation; Vaud; Priorização; Planeamento de conservação; SIG; Zonation; Vaud; Domínio/Área Científica::Ciências Sociais::Geografia Económica e Social
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2065054
Full text PDF: http://www.rcaap.pt/detail.jsp?id=oai:run.unl.pt:10362/18145


Increasing awareness of the impact of biodiversity loss and natural system instability on human life is changing the societal perception of the environment and the amount of effort put into solving environmental problems. In spatial planning, this translates into a quest for the sustainable use of the territory, allocating areas to their most suitable usage while managing conflicting interests and forces. Conservation areas are the cornerstone of any spatial strategy for nature conservation, but are strongly affected by socio-economic constraints that affect their implementation and maintenance. Prioritising interventions thus becomes fundamental to achieve efficient and effective results. Conservation planning has come a long way since its infancy, gradually putting aside traditional ad hoc reserve selection in favour of a more scientific and systematic approach. This development has been supported by advances in technology, especially in the area of geographic information systems, which allow for improved acquisition and faster treatment of spatial data. Modelling has also became a fundamental scientific activity for conservation planning, offering a better understanding of natural and biological phenomena and generating indispensable data used in emerging conservation planning support software. This dissertation looks at methods for the selection of high-quality areas for conservation, focusing on the maximum cover problem and analysing how traditional strategies translate into spatial differences on the resulting selection. The study area chosen to test our methodology is the Alpine region of the Canton of Vaud, in Switzerland, an area known for its biodiversity and cultural richness. After a thorough analysis of the area, focused on the biodiversity, socio-economic, political, and legal aspects that affect conservation planning, we decided to concentrate on prioritisation for vegetation conservation. Using Zonation v4 — a software package developed to aid conservation planning decision — and taking into account the previous analysis, we assess the spatial differences that result from different decisions, such as privileging rarity or richness, weighting species according to different criteria, or including socio-economic costs. We also examine the logic behind existing protected areas and investigate a possible expansion to benefit vegetation conservation. The outputs and subsequent analysis show the strong influence of both strategic preferences and socio-economic constraints on the priority ranking for potential protected areas. However, regardless of the strategy chosen, some areas are consistently ranked high and are therefore good candidates for further expansion. Furthermore, existing protected areas already show good coverage, and an increase of merely 2% in protected area would suffice to retain almost full representation of the vegetation species under consideration In the end, there are no perfect or universal solution for conservation planning prioritisation: different spatial translations can yield… Advisors/Committee Members: Julião, Rui Pedro, Guisan, Antoine.