GIS Methodologies for Developing Conservation Strategies

GIS Methodologies for Developing Conservation Strategies: Tropical Forest Recovery and Willdlife Management in Costa Rica

Basil G. Savitsky
Thomas E. Lacher
Michael J. Balick
Anthony B. Anderson
Kent H. Redford
Copyright Date: 1998
Pages: 278
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7312/savi10026
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    GIS Methodologies for Developing Conservation Strategies
    Book Description:

    Tropical habitats may contain more than a third of the world's plant and animal species; Costa Rica alone is home to one of the highest levels of biodiversity per unit area in the world, and stands at center stage in worldwide conservation efforts. Within such regions, the use of state-of-the-art digital mapping technologies -- sophisticated techniques that are relatively inexpensive and accessible -- represents the future of conservation planning and policy. These methods, which employ satellites to obtain visual data on landscapes, allow environmental scientists to monitor encroachment on indigenous territories, trace park boundaries through unmarked wilderness, and identify wildlife habitats in regions where humans have limited access.

    Focusing on the rich biodiversity of Costa Rica, the contributors demonstrate the use of geographic information systems (GIS) to enhance conservation efforts. They give an overview of the spatial nature of conservation and management and the current status of digital mapping in Costa Rica; a review of the basic principles behind digital mapping technologies; a series of case studies using these technologies at a variety of scales and for a range of conservation and management activities; and the results of the Costa Rican gap analysis project. GIS Methodologies for Developing Conservation Strategies provides powerful tools for those involved in decision-making about the natural environment, particularly in developing nations like Costa Rica where such technologies have not yet been widely adopted. For specialists in such areas as geography, conservation biology, and wildlife and natural resource management, the combination of conceptual background and case examples make the book a crucial addition to the literature.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-50501-7
    Subjects: Environmental Science, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. xi-xii)
    James D. Nations

    Every sixteen days a Landsat satellite passes silently over the tropical landscape of Costa Rica, recording digital data on the rain forests, savannas, rivers, lakes, and mountains that lie 918 kilometers below. The recorded data are a worthless collection of zeros and ones until the scientific mind manipulates them and transforms them into images that have meaning for the future of human beings and the thousands of species that live in the habitats the images depict.

    The analysis of remotely sensed images has come a long way from the biplane flights of World War I pilots, who brought back film...

  4. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
    Basil G. Savitsky and Thomas E. Lacher Jr.
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xvii-xxii)
  6. Part One: Overview
    • 1 The Spatial Nature of Conservation and Development
      (pp. 3-12)
      Thomas E. Lacher Jr.

      About 2,200 years ago a scholarly librarian in charge of the prestigious collections of the museum at Alexandria conducted an elegant exercise in logic and experimentation. Using seemingly unrelated bits of information such as the observation of the penetration of sunlight into a well in the city of Syene, the speed of a camel caravan, and the shadow cast by an obelisk in Alexandria, Eratosthenes calculated a remarkably accurate estimate of the circumference of the earth (Wilford 1981). This was a profound observation; the limits of a planet as yet unexplored had been defined. As the human population of Earth...

    • 2 Conservation Mapping in Costa Rica
      (pp. 13-26)
      Christopher Vaughan, Jorge Fallas and Michael McCoy

      Costa Rica is one of Latin America’s smallest countries (51,100 km²), with a human population of about three million people (or fifty-seven people per square kilometer). Its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is equivalent to U.S.$6.4 billion and its per capita income is $2,200. The industry sector contributes 26.1 percent, and the primary sector contributes 19.6 percent. By 1994 tourism, especially ecotourism, had become the primary source of foreign currency income, replacing the traditional three major products of coffee, bananas, and cattle meat. Much of this ecotourism has arrived to observe the country’s biodiversity (Damon and Vaughan 1995).

      Covering only 0.04...

  7. Part Two: Digital Mapping Technologies
    • 3 Digital Mapping Technologies
      (pp. 29-40)
      Basil G. Savitsky

      Digital mapping technologies include computer-assisted mapping tools such as GIS, satellite image-processing software, and Global Positioning System (GPS) field collection devices. Each of these three technologies is covered individually in chapters 4, 5, and 6. This chapter contrasts digital mapping technologies with traditional cartography and addresses issues that are common to all three tools, particularly in the implementation of these technologies for conservation mapping in tropical developing countries.

      Cartography is the “art, science and technology of making maps, together with their study as scientific documents and works of art” (Robinson, Sale, and Morris. 1978:3). A comparison of digital cartography with...

    • 4 GIS
      (pp. 41-47)
      Basil G. Savitsky

      There are numerous definitions of GIS. Maguire (1991) lists eleven different definitions. Some place emphasis on the computer processing or analytical procedures, such as Burrough (1986:6), who defines GIS as a “set of tools for collecting, storing, retrieving at will, transforming, and displaying spatial data from the real world for a particular set of purposes.” Other definitions emphasize the institutional and project context in which the GIS hardware and software reside (Dickinson and Calkins 1988). The discussion in chapter 3 revolving around the information system triangle (figure 3.1) uses this broader approach to defining GIS.

      As sufficient attention has been...

    • 5 Image Analysis
      (pp. 48-60)
      Basil G. Savitsky

      This chapter provides a general background on the utilization of satellite imagery in tropical habitat mapping. The introductory section covers basic concepts in image analysis that are prerequisite to the content covered in the balance of the chapter. The second section provides a review of the literature on the habitat mapping capability of a variety of sensor systems. The third section covers the utility of satellite imagery in national and regional conservation mapping efforts in the tropics.

      Remotely sensed data include a variety of data sources that are defined from the range of the spectrum of electromagnetic radiation. Aerial photography...

    • 6 GPS
      (pp. 61-80)
      Jeffery S. Allen

      The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a new tool recently added to the growing hardware and software utilities which comprise computer mapping. This chapter will include an explanation of GPS, how it is currently being used, some examples of use in Central America, and suggestions for training and implementation for natural resource management in developing tropical countries.

      Accuracy of positional information for navigation and positioning has been something that mappers have persistently pursued over the ages. Some historical maps are almost comical in their presentation and oversimplification of spatial details. However, many historical maps are amazing works of cartography and...

  8. Part Three: Uses of GIS—Examples in Costa Rica
    • 7 GIS Design and Implementation at La Selva Biological Station
      (pp. 83-95)
      Elizabeth A. Wentz and Joseph A. Bishop

      Biological research stations are growing in number and becoming more sophisticated in the services they provide. It is not uncommon for researchers to have access to full meal services, air-conditioned laboratories, libraries, and computers (NSF 1992). More comfortable living combined with access to research equipment allows researchers the opportunity to stay longer at the site, thereby becoming part of an atmosphere that promotes the integration of data, information, and knowledge. One of the mechanisms available for this integration is access to computer-based tools such as GIS and Database Management Systems (DBMS).

      Techniques associated with GIS and DBMS are not new...

    • 8 Use of Digital Elevation Models in Tropical Rain Forest Basins to Extract Basic Hydrologic and Land Use Information
      (pp. 96-107)
      G. Arturo Sánchez-Azofeifa

      Assessment of environmental damage due to deforestation and its impacts on evapotranspiration, infiltration, and runoff requires better climatic, geomorphological, and geographical databases. These databases will require new technological tools based on remote sensing, spatial statistics, and nonparametric statistics for quantitative impact analysis. These observational and analytical methods are not only important for assessing current environmental deterioration trends but may also have the potential to clarify future impacts of land use changes on the environment.

      Two of these tools—the generation of land use information from satellite images and the extraction of topographic characteristics from digital elevation models (DEMs)—have proved...

    • 9 Using a GIS to Determine Critical Areas in the Central Volcanic Cordillera Conservation Area
      (pp. 108-126)
      Grégoire Leclerc and Johnny Rodriguez Chacón

      The Foundation for the Development of the Central Cordillera (FUNDECOR) is a nongovernmental organization whose mission is to preserve and promote sustainable development of the natural and cultural patrimony of the Central Volcanic Cordillera Conservation Area (ACCVC; Area de Conservación Cordillera Volcanica Central). It promotes the self-financing of the national parks as well as activities of the private sector within ACCVC which are deemed sustainable, such as ecotourism or “green” forest management. FUNDECOR’s actions are based on the principle that conservation and development are complementary and can coexist in harmony.

      ACCVC, which is part of the National Parks Service of...

    • 10 Application of the HEP Methodology and Use of GIS to Identify Priority Sites for the Management of White-Tailed Deer
      (pp. 127-137)
      Wilfredo Segura López

      The white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in the Guanacaste area is an important species in tropical dry forest. As part of the social and cultural environment, human populations from this area have benefited from the availability of this resource for many years, using its meat, leather, and antlers (Solís 1986). The Guanacaste area contains the main population of this animal in the country (Solís and Rodríguez 1986). The evaluation of the white-tailed deer’s potential habitat in this area is very important since, in order to manage and conserve this valuable game-ranching species, it is necessary to know the quantity and quality...

    • 11 The Paseo Pantera Project: A Case Study Using GIS to Improve Continental-Scale Conservation Planning
      (pp. 138-148)
      J. David Lambert and Margaret H. Carr

      Because of the accelerating loss and fragmentation of Central America’s wildlands, the rich biodiversity that once characterized the isthmus may disappear unless there is a coordinated regional effort to protect the remaining pristine wildlands and restore degraded lands that could provide landscape linkages between the remaining wildlands of the isthmus. Biological corridors have been recommended by many researchers as a way to overcome the negative effects associated with fragmentation (Forman and Godron 1986; Harris and Atkins 1991; Soulé 1991). An ambitious regional wildlands conservation project called Paseo Pantera was initiated in 1990 to address this threatening scenario. The five-year project...

  9. Part Four: The USAID Case Study in Gap Analysis
    • 12 Overview of Gap Analysis
      (pp. 151-157)
      Basil G. Savitsky

      Gap analysis is a “search for biotic communities and species in need of preservation management” (Davis et al. 1990:56). Gap analysis provides a method for assessing present measures to protect biological diversity and for identifying focus areas for optimal conservation efforts (Scott et al. 1987). Gap analysis is a GIS technique which superimposes species distributions with boundaries of ecosystems and protected areas to identify gaps in the protection of species. GIS is used to overlay maps or layers that are geographically referenced to each other and to create new information through the combination of those map files. Image analysis is...

    • [Maps]
      (pp. None)
    • 13 Wildlife and Habitat Data Collection and Analysis
      (pp. 158-169)
      Basil G. Savitsky, Jorge Fallas, Christopher Vaughan and Thomas E. Lacher Jr.

      Costa Rica, with an area of only 51,100 km², has one of the highest levels of biodiversity per unit area in the world. According to the Holdridge system of life zones (Holdridge 1967), Costa Rica can be divided into twenty-four life zones, each of which possesses unique characteristics of elevation, temperature, precipitation, and evapotranspiration potential. This high diversity of environmental conditions has generated an equally diverse landscape with an extremely high diversity of plants and animals. Not all species could be included in a wildlife database, and a decision needed to be made concerning the level of detail of the...

    • 14 Error and the Gap Analysis Model
      (pp. 170-178)
      Jennifer N. Morgan and Basil G. Savitsky

      Error is a concept of growing concern to the geographic community as GIS usage and products rapidly are becoming more widespread. An understanding of the limitations of ecological modeling should serve to further the appropriate application of the gap analysis model.

      Three functions have been identified that biological models perform to varying degrees of quality (Levins 1966). Any given model can maximize realism, precision, or generality, but no model can maximize all three qualities. Realism indicates the ability of the model to define reality. Precision is the accuracy associated with the measurements used in the model. Generality is the ability...

    • 15 A GIS Method for Conservation Decision Making
      (pp. 179-198)
      Basil G. Savitsky and Thomas E. Lacher Jr.

      The first objective of this chapter is to document the protected areas data used in the Costa Rica gap analysis. The second objective is to categorize the output from the gap analysis model in the context of the Habitat Conservation Decision Cube. The third objective is to interpret the gap analysis results and the utility of the Habitat Conservation Decision Cube in the Costa Rica project.

      Gap analysis requires a map layer of the existing protected areas in order to assess the gaps in the conservation network. The boundary data on national parks and other protected areas in Costa Rica...

    • 16 Using the Gap Analysis Model for Sustainable Development and Natural Resources Management in Developing Countries
      (pp. 199-209)
      Thomas E. Lacher Jr.

      The USAID-sponsored case study on gap analysis presented in this volume was conceived as a model for application toward conservation and development issues in other countries and regions. The likelihood that any collaborative, multidisciplinary, GIS-based research is conducted in a developing tropical country is contingent on many practical, logistical, intellectual, and philosophical factors. For each case, these factors need to de defined, understood, and resolved to the satisfaction of the collaborators. There will always be issues idiosyncratic to a special situation, but there are some common factors that can be presented and discussed.

      Conducting research requires access to the necessary...

    • 17 Application of the Gap Analysis Model in Regional and International Programs in the Tropics
      (pp. 210-218)
      Thomas E. Lacher Jr., G. Wesley Burnett, Basil G. Savitsky and Christopher Vaughan

      One of the objectives of this research was to identify the minimum data requirements for the international application of the gap analysis model. Much research needs to be performed before specific data requirements can be listed; however, there are several findings and recommendations.

      Costa Rica is a data-rich tropical country. Both the habitat map and the wildlife data were updates of previous mapping efforts. There are numerous countries that have neither the quality of land cover mapping nor a similar wildlife database upon which to build. Since wildlife data collection is expensive and habitat mapping requires both extensive time and...

  10. Appendix 1 GPS Receivers with GIS Capability
    (pp. 219-222)
  11. Appendix 2 Ordering Information for Map of the Habitats of Costa Rica
    (pp. 223-224)
  12. Appendix 3 Description of the Twenty-one Wildlife Species
    (pp. 225-230)
  13. Appendix 4 Summary of Wildlife Survey
    (pp. 231-232)
  14. Appendix 5 List of Participants at UNA/USAID GIS Workshop (March 6–8, 1995)
    (pp. 233-236)
  15. Contributors
    (pp. 237-238)
  16. Index
    (pp. 239-242)