Assignment #1- GIS project example
The GIS project I choose for this assignment is Unit Management Planning - GIS project (http://www.esf.edu/aec/research/ump.htm) to enhance quality of management of the Adirondack Park, which is located at the northeast of New York State, by the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). According to the website above, "The Adirondack Park is a 6-million acre mosaic of private and state-owned land. ･･･DEC is responsible for stewardship of roughly 2.6 million acres of public land, collectively called the Forest Preserve." The Adirondack Park is a popular recreation sites in New York State, while it has precious ecosystems, and Adirondack State Land Park Master Plan requires DEC to complete inventory of natural resources in order to ensure that these resources are not overused or deteriorated.
The UMP-GIS consortium, "a partnership made of university, government, and non-profit organizations collaborating with the DEC and led by researchers at the Adirondack Ecological Center of SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry(SUNY-ESF)" has been conducting researches for 5years (2004-2008) for the purpose of assisting DEC's inventory by providing various dataset about the park in detail. For example, it has provided GIS dataset to monitor invasive species, to analyze ecosystems of the park, and to locate alternative place for trail, which avoids wetland and natural heritage. Its achievement so far is too much to introduce all here, so I will mention about its activity in their fourth year, 2007.
In the last year, UMP-GIS consortium created three preliminary GIS data layers, called Natural Features Index, Recreational Facilities Index, and Human Impact Index, by combining various park-wide GIS data layers relating natural features, recreation and human impact. For example, Natural Features Index was created by combining 6 kinds of data sets, called Primary aquatic communities, State Land Acquisition, Charismatic Megawetlands, Natural Heritage Points, Ecosystem Richness and Ecosystem Rarity, provided by The Nature Conservancy, APA, NYS Heritage Program, and SUNY-ESF. (For more detail information, please see the page 10 of the year 4 report, http://www.esf.edu/aec/research/UMP-GIS_year4report.pdf).
The type of the preexisting data sets used to create the three GIS layer data sets were not grid data but points, line and polygon, therefore, they "first needed to convert all data to grids so that they could be mathematically combined to create a single index data layer" "They used the distance approach in the creation of the three indices". Please see the example in Figure 1 in the year 4 report P11 to understand converting data by distance approach used in the report. It shows how they converted the Primary Aquatic Communities data layer, which is one of the components of Natural Features Index, to grid data by distance approach. (Unfortunately, there is no mention about the unit of grids.)
After converting to grid data, they reclassified each grid on a 1-10 scale. Based on the score of each grid of each characteristic, the three indices are calculated. (Please see the Figure 2 in P13) For example, Natural Features index is created from each grid's score of six characteristics mentioned above, and other two indices, Recreational Facilities Index and Human Impact Index are created in the same manner. The results are shown in Figure 4 in P14. Also, they created three indices by calculating Natural features index minus Human Impact Index, Natural Feature Index minus Recreational facilities index, and Recreational Facilities Index minus Human Impact Index. These calculations are intended to locate areas with important natural features and little human impact, areas with important natural features with relatively few recreation opportunities and areas with many recreation opportunities with little human impact. The result of Natural Features Index minus Human Impact Index is shown in the figure 3, and also others are shown in their power point presentation file linked in the website: http://www.esf.edu/aec/research/ump.htm
Although the effects of creating these new indices must be waited to be clear because the UMP-GIS project has not completed, I think it can be a strong tool to enhance efficiency of the management of the Adirondack Park by DEC, because it makes possible to analyze the park based on the detail data. It will contribute to make natural environment protection and recreational use compatible. They can intensify natural protection in the areas with important natural features with little human impact, while they can promote recreational use in the area with many facilities and many human impacts.
As they said it is preliminary model and should be modified based on the inputs of DEC professional and others with expertise in the Adirondack Park, the model should be interpreted as possible index so far, and should be collated with real. Also, more data sets can be incorporated into the model, as it is pointed out by themselves, such as data of air pollution near roads, number of vehicles by road, water quality of each water body, distance to the scenic viewpoint. However, even the preliminary model will provide DEC with very helpful information, and it will be developed by DEC staff as indispensable tool for their task in future.