The State of California sustains unique ecosystems that support numerous rare and endemic species sensitive to human impacts. Understanding the current condition of species habitat is crucial to making scientifically-sound decisions regarding the prioritization of land for conservation and mitigation efforts. Knowledge of landscape intactness can also be used to guide ongoing urban and renewable energy development, ideally by steering it towards lands with existing anthropogenic impacts and leaving undisturbed areas intact.
We modeled terrestrial intactness at 1 km2 resolution across the State of California using the Environmental Evaluation Modeling System (EEMS), an open-source fuzzy logic modeling framework developed by the Conservation Biology Institute. Our landscape condition model is based on the extent to which human impacts, such as agriculture, urban development, natural resource extraction, and invasive species have disrupted the landscape.
The goal of this effort was to use fuzzy logic modeling to integrate numerous datasets into a spatially-explicit, transparent, decision-support tool to help inform conservation planning and encourage environmentally-sound development strategies.
Our model results are accessible as online interactive maps, showing the signature of human impact across California’s landscape at 1 km2 resolution. This approach compiles multiple layers of complex information into more easily digestible formats that allow non-experts to determine what impacts are occurring on the landscape at any given location. Input data, intermediate layers, and final results can all be explored on Data Basin (http://databasin.org/).
The statewide landscape intactness results have also been integrated into several of the Conservation Biology Institute’s custom map applications, created using open source components and designed to allow for intuitive exploration of data in a standard web browser. These tools present an information-rich view of the landscape by incorporating detailed climate variables, in addition to ecological condition, and allowing users to summarize data for their geography of interest.
By accessing these online maps, decision-makers, agency and non-profit stakeholders, and the public can examine the potential impact of different conservation and development scenarios across the State of California.