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Spatial assessment of ecosystem services and sensitive areas: a case study of Maduganga, Sri Lanka

Sund, Kathryn Elizabeth (2009) Spatial assessment of ecosystem services and sensitive areas: a case study of Maduganga, Sri Lanka.

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Abstract:Environmentally sensitive area mapping is a typical approach for land preservation, but does it adequately represent the ecosystems it is trying to preserve? Combining sensitive area mapping and ecosystem services spatially may provide an alternative to more fully understand ecosystems, many of which are in decline. In this research, sensitive areas were defined for an estuarine lagoon in Maduganga, Sri Lanka. These sensitive areas were grouped by ecological sensitivity, natural hazard sensitivity (flooding), cultural and historical sensitivity and economic importance. In addition, the different ecosystem services and their drivers of change within this area were categorised according to the World Resources Institute guidelines.(WRI 2008). These services were grouped by provision, regulating, cultural provision and supporting services. For each of these variables (twelve sensitive areas and eleven ecosystem services), a spatial representation was created according to a set of criteria. Spatial assessment was carried out using equal weighted overlay to generate a series of outputs showing the intersection of each combination of sensitive area and ecosystem service. Results show whether a relationship exists, and if so, the percentage of each sensitive area covered by each ecosystem service. Landuse change was found to be the major driver of change for all the ecosystem services in the area. Maps for selected sensitive areas (ecologically sensitive, flood prone areas and tourism development potential areas) provided additional information regarding the risks and opportunities. A tool such as this could provide a first step towards delineation of landscape in terms of its contribution to ecosystems as a whole, rather than merely the reservation of sensitive assets based on planning frameworks and conservation status, and as such is important for land managers.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:ITC: Faculty of Geo-information Science and Earth Observation
Programme:Geoinformation Science and Earth Observation MSc (75014)
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