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Spatial prediction tools for biodiversity in environmental assessment
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Land and Water Resources Engineering, Environmental Management and Assessment.
2008 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other scientific)
Abstract [en]

Human activities in the form of land use changes, urbanisation and infrastructure developments are major threats to biodiversity. The loss and fragmentation of natural habitats are great obstacles for the long term preservation of biodiversity and nature protection measures alone may not be sufficient to tackle the problem. Environmental impact assessment (EIA) and strategic environmental assessment (SEA) play a central role in identifying, predicting and managing the impacts of human activities on biodiversity. The review of current practice suggests that the complexity of the task is underestimated and that new methodological approaches encompassing the entire landscape are needed. Spatial aspects of the assessment and the lack of information on scale-related issues are particular problems affecting the appropriate assessment of cumulative effects. In parallel with the development and establishment of EIA and SEA, spatial modelling is an expanding field in ecology and many derived applications could be suitable for the prediction and assessment of biodiversity-related impacts. The diversity of modelling methods suggests that a strategy is needed to identify prediction methods appropriate for EIA and SEA. The relevance and potential limitations of GIS-based species distribution and habitat models in predicting impacts on biodiversity were examined in three studies in the greater Stockholm area. Distinct approaches to habitat suitability modelling were compared from the perspective of environmental assessment needs and requirements. The results showed that model performance, validity and ultimate suitability for planning applications were strongly dependent on empirical data and expert knowledge. The methods allowed visual, qualitative and quantitative assessment of habitat loss, thus improving decision support for assessment of impacts on biodiversity. The proposed methods allowed areas of high ecological value and the surrounding landscape to be considered in the same assessment, thereby contributing to better integration of biodiversity issues in physical planning.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH , 2008. , x, 29 p.
Series
Trita-LWR. PHD, ISSN 1650-8602 ; 1041
Keyword [en]
EIA; SEA; Species distribution modelling; Habitat suitability modelling; Impact prediction; GIS; Urbanisation
National Category
Other Environmental Engineering
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-4775ISBN: 978-91-7178-997-6 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-4775DiVA: diva2:13887
Public defence
2008-06-05, E3, Osquarsbacke 14, Stockholm, 10:00
Opponent
Supervisors
Note
QC 20100727Available from: 2008-05-27 Created: 2008-05-27 Last updated: 2010-07-27Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Biodiversity in environmental assessment: current practice and tools for prediction
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Biodiversity in environmental assessment: current practice and tools for prediction
2006 (English)In: Environmental impact assessment review, ISSN 0195-9255, E-ISSN 1873-6432, Vol. 26, no 3, 268-286 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Habitat loss and fragmentation are major threats to biodiversity. Environmental impact assessment and strategic environmental assessment are essential instruments used in physical planning to address such problems. Yet there are no well-developed methods for quantifying and predicting impacts of fragmentation on biodiversity. In this study, a literature review was conducted on GIS-based ecological models that have potential as prediction tools for biodiversity assessment. Further, a review of environmental impact statements for road and railway projects from four European countries was performed, to study how impact prediction concerning biodiversity issues was addressed. The results of the study showed the existing gap between research in GIS-based ecological modelling and current practice in biodiversity assessment within environmental assessment.

Keyword
environmental impact assessment; biodiversity assessment; GIS-based ecological modelling; prediction tools; strategic environmental assessment; road and railway projects
National Category
Other Environmental Engineering
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-8531 (URN)10.1016/j.eiar.2005.09.001 (DOI)000236979200004 ()2-s2.0-33645851034 (Scopus ID)
Note

QC 20150721

Available from: 2008-05-27 Created: 2008-05-27 Last updated: 2015-07-21Bibliographically approved
2. Impacts of region-wide urban development on biodiversity in strategic environmental assessment
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Impacts of region-wide urban development on biodiversity in strategic environmental assessment
2005 (English)In: Journal of Environmental Assessment Policy and Management, ISSN 1464-3332, Vol. 7, no 2, 229-246 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In urbanising regions, urban sprawl and infrastructure cause profound alterations of natural habitats. Initial decisions on urban expansion and major infrastructure investments are often made on a strategic level where the long-term development of a region is determined. For these types of decisions a strategic environmental assessment can be prepared. However, the lack of an adequate conceptual and methodological framework can pose a major problem for the prediction of impacts, not least concerning biodiversity. This paper will highlight the need for effective methods for biodiversity analysis at landscape and regional levels, with reference to the long-term urban development of the Stockholm and Mälaren regions. Problems of habitat loss, fragmentation and other impacts related to large-scale urbanisation and infrastructure developments will be addressed. GIS-based methods focusing on predictive ecological modelling will be discussed in a scenario context. The implementation of such methodologies in the strategic environmental assessment process would allow a better integration of biodiversity in planning and decision-making, further promoting a sustainable planning system.

Keyword
Strategic environmental assessment; biodiversity assessment; urbanisation; scenarios; polycentricity
National Category
Other Environmental Engineering Environmental Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-8532 (URN)10.1142/S1464333205002006 (DOI)2-s2.0-20444373368 (Scopus ID)
Note

QC 20150731

Available from: 2008-05-27 Created: 2008-05-27 Last updated: 2015-07-31Bibliographically approved
3. Integrating landscape ecology in environmental impact assessment using GIS and ecological modelling
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Integrating landscape ecology in environmental impact assessment using GIS and ecological modelling
2006 (English)In: From landscape research to landscape planning / [ed] Tress, B., Tress, G. and Opdam, P., Springer, 2006, 345-354 p.Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Ecological assessment in environmental impact assessment and strategic environmental assessment processes requires improvements. The descriptive and qualitative nature of many ecological assessments suggests a need to develop and implement quantitative and predictive methods to assess problems such as fragmentation and impacts on biodiversity. Such tools, from basic GIS applications to more advanced ecological models, already exist and have reached a level of development that allows practical implementation outside the research sphere. The chapter presents a literature review on the potential application and advantages of ecological models and GIS-based methods in carrying out ecological assessments in the Environmental Impact Assessment and Strategic Environmental Assessment processes. The implementation of such tools translates into practice certain concepts of landscape ecology related to ecological dynamic or spatial and temporal scales. Although data requirements and the complexity of ecological models are limitations to their reproducibility and application range, the integration of landscape-ecology concepts in ecological assessment through the use of ecological models and GIS tools would contribute to the sustainable management of landscapes and their ecological resources. Finally, I argue that predictive modelling and GIS tools can also serve as a platform to integrate other landscape components that can be characterized spatially such as recreational and cultural values.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer, 2006
Series
Wageningen UR Frontis series, ISSN 1573-4544 ; 12
Keyword
ecological assessment; strategic environmental assessment; GIS; predictive methods
National Category
Other Environmental Engineering
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-8533 (URN)1-4020-3978-6 (ISBN)
Conference
Frontis workshop from landscape research to landscape planning: aspects of integration, education and application, Bakkaveen, The Netherlands 1-6 June 2004
Note
QC 20100727Available from: 2008-05-27 Created: 2008-05-27 Last updated: 2012-02-10Bibliographically approved
4. Scale issues in the assessment of ecological impacts using a GIS-based habitat model: A case study for the Stockholm region
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Scale issues in the assessment of ecological impacts using a GIS-based habitat model: A case study for the Stockholm region
2007 (English)In: Environmental impact assessment review, ISSN 0195-9255, E-ISSN 1873-6432, Vol. 27, no 5, 440-459 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) provide two interlinked platforms for the assessment of impacts on biodiversity caused by human developments. Although it might be too early to draw conclusions on the efficiency of SEA to assess such impacts, a number of persistent problems have been identified in the case of EIA. Some of these shortcomings concern the lack of proper prediction and impact quantification, and the inadequate/insufficient assessment of cumulative effects. A number of problems are related to the scale(s) at which the assessment is performed. SEA may provide a more adequate framework than EIA to discuss scale-related issues (i.e. cumulative impacts) but it also requires the use of adapted tools. This paper presents a case study where a GIS-based habitat model for the lesser spotted woodpecker is tested, validated and applied to a planning scenario in the Stockholm region in Sweden. The results show that the method adopted offers great prospects to contribute to a better assessment of biodiversity-related impacts. Even though some limitations remain in the form of data requirement and interpretation of the results, the model produced continuous, quantified predictions over the study area and provided a relevant basis for the assessment of cumulative effects. Furthermore, this paper discusses potential conflicts between different scales involved in the assessment - related to administrative boundaries, ecological processes, data availability, the method adopted to perform the assessment and temporal aspects.

Keyword
SEA; EIA; scale; data; biodiversity; lesser spotted woodpecker; maxent model; physical planning; cumulative impacts
National Category
Other Environmental Engineering
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-8534 (URN)10.1016/j.eiar.2007.02.003 (DOI)000247480800007 ()2-s2.0-34249300865 (Scopus ID)
Note
QC 20100727Available from: 2008-05-27 Created: 2008-05-27 Last updated: 2010-07-27Bibliographically approved
5. Modelling habitat preferences and differences in two Parus species in an urbanising region
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Modelling habitat preferences and differences in two Parus species in an urbanising region
2008 (English)In: Conservation Biology, ISSN 0888-8892, E-ISSN 1523-1739Article in journal (Refereed) Submitted
Keyword
Crested tit; Willow tit; Urbanisation; Geographical Information System; Habitat suitability modelling; Habitat quality; breeding success
National Category
Other Environmental Engineering
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-8535 (URN)
Note
QS 20120314Available from: 2008-05-27 Created: 2008-05-27 Last updated: 2012-03-14Bibliographically approved
6. Comparing GIS-based habitat models for applications in EIA and SEA
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Comparing GIS-based habitat models for applications in EIA and SEA
2010 (English)In: Environmental impact assessment review, ISSN 0195-9255, E-ISSN 1873-6432, Vol. 30, no 1, 8-18 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Land use changes. urbanisation and infrastructure developments in particular. cause fragmentation of natural habitats and threaten biodiversity. Tools and measures must be adapted to assess and remedy the potential effects on biodiversity caused by human activities and developments. Within physical planning, environmental impact assessment (EIA) and strategic environmental assessment (SEA) play important roles in the prediction and assessment of biodiversity-related impacts from planned developments. However, adapted prediction tools to forecast and quantify potential impacts on biodiversity components are lacking. This study tested and compared four different CIS-based habitat models and assessed their relevance for applications in environmental assessment. The models were implemented in the Stockholm region in central Sweden and applied to data on the crested tit (Parus cristatus), a sedentary bird species of coniferous forest. All four models performed well and allowed the distribution of suitable habitats for the crested tit in the Stockholm region to be predicted. The models were also used to predict and quantify habitat loss for two regional development scenarios. The study highlighted the importance of model selection in impact prediction. Criteria that are relevant for the choice of model for predicting impacts on biodiversity were identified and discussed. Finally, the importance of environmental assessment for the preservation of biodiversity within the general frame of biodiversity conservation is emphasised.

Keyword
Biodiversity, Impact prediction, Crested tit, Conservation planning, Habitat suitability, Species distribution modeling
National Category
Other Environmental Engineering
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-8536 (URN)10.1016/j.eiar.2009.05.003 (DOI)000272928500002 ()2-s2.0-70449518327 (Scopus ID)
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FormasStandUp
Note

QC 20100727. Uppdaterad från manuskript till artikel (20100727).

Available from: 2008-05-27 Created: 2008-05-27 Last updated: 2013-01-14Bibliographically approved

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Citation style
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