Remote Sensing for Inventory, Mapping, and Conservation Planning of Protected Areas

One particular advantage that remote sensing can provide for inventory and monitoring of protected areas is the information for understanding the past and current status, the changes occurred under different impacting factors and management practices, the trends of changes in comparison with those in the adjacent areas and implications of changes on ecosystem functions.118,191 Field survey and in situ observations are essential to identify protected habitats through remote sensing. Almost every remote sensing exercise requires field survey to define habitats, to calibrate remote sensing imagery, and to evaluate the accuracy out of remote sensing outputs.120! With GPS-guided positioning and field survey becoming a routine operation, challenges remain for incorporation of in situ measurements with remote sensing observations for quantitative analyses of protected habitats.

A study employed Landsat-7 ETM+ data and GPS collars to provide detailed information for conservation of Matschie’s tree kangaroos in Papua New Guinea.1211 Matschie’s tree kangaroos (Dendrolagus matschiei) are arboreal marsupials endemic to the Huon Peninsula in Papua New Guinea. Due primarily to increased hunting pressure and loss of habitat from agricultural expansion, D. matschiei are currently listed as endangered by the IUCN. The study concluded that Dacrydium и/du/um-dominant forests are the most widespread forest throughout the study area and are also where tree kangaroos located. However, additional research has shown that these are not the only forest type that is used by the species. Clustered and independent movement locations indicate that animals do not utilize their habitat uniformly. These data provide vital information toward a better understanding of the habitat, the requirements of the animals, and the long-term conservation of the Matschie’s tree kangaroo habitat. Aerial remote sensing from Wildlife Conservation Society’s Flight Program has been used to support biodiversity conservation in Madagascar and Eastern and Southern Africa with a focus on the Albertine Rift.1221 Many sites in the Albertine Rift are protected as national parks, wildlife reserves, or forest reserves. The aerial imagery has been used to map threats to biodiversity, to develop land-use plans for protected area management, and to measure vegetation cover and dynamics.

MPAs are among critical components of protected waters. Important factors that affect the way plants and animals respond to MPAs include distribution of habitat types, level of connectivity to nearby fish habitats, wave exposure, depth distribution, prior level of resource extraction, regulations, and level of with regulations.1231 Conservation benefits are evident through increased habitat heterogeneity at the seascape level, increased abundance of threatened species and habitats, and maintenance of a full range of genotypes.1241 Remote sensing data that quantify spatial patterns in habitat type, oceanographic conditions, and benthic complexity can be integrated with in situ ecological data for design, evaluation, and monitoring of MPA networks to design, assess, and monitor MPAs.125,261 Combining remote sensing products with in situ ecological and physical data can support the development of a statistically robust monitoring program of living marine resources within and adjacent to marine protected areas.1271 Individual MPAs need to be networked in order to provide large-scale ecosystem benefits and to have the greatest chance of protecting all species, life stages, and ecological linkages if they encompass representative portions of all ecologically relevant habitat types in a replicated manner. High-resolution remote sensing data are capable of mapping physical and biological features of benthic habitat, such as monitoring of coral reef in the Hawaii Archipelago and near-shore protected areas in California and New England.1231

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