A GIS-Based Habitat Restoration and Preservation Prioritization Tool Geospatially Integrating Hydrological, Ecological, Pollution, Economic, Social and Cultural Considerations

Brian C. Peacock


Riparian wetland buffers (RWBs) are a low cost solution to water quality and runoff management issues. The placement of RWBs within a watershed must be optimized to minimize cost, social impacts and cultural impacts whilst maximizing environmental benefits including nutrient removal, erosion protection, sediment removal, stream temperature regulation, flood buffering, large woody debris sourcing, habitat connection and biodiversity enhancement. This project has developed a land score system for siting RWBs using the cost-benefit analysis framework. Unlike other buffer placement models, this technique does not assume that buffers will be placed adjacent to known streams. Instead, benefits were assessed using a combination of several quantitative metrics: terrain-landuse analysis to identify areas of high areal pollutant flux; distance from streams to encompass riparian functions such as stream temperature regulation, large woody debris and streambank erosion; minimum cost corridor delineation to assess habitat connectivity; and the Mauri Model decision-making framework to account for human factors often difficult to quantify including social, cultural, environmental and economic factors. The result is a simple, flexible wetland-siting tool that utilizes readily available data and can easily be implemented by land planners in a variety of watersheds. This decision making tool was applied to the Tarawera Watershed in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand to delineate optimal areas for riparian wetland restoration. The metrics used in this tool proved effective in anticipating ecological, hydrological, geological, environmental and anthropologic constraints. The final result was a detailed map indicating areas best suited for buffer placement. In addition, the broad incorporation of weighting factors, defined on a per-project basis allows the technique to yield to different management goals and geographic locations while still maintaining a scientific decision making framework.


Habitat Restoration, Habitat Preservation, Riparian, GIS, Buffer, Mauri Model

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