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A method for assessing ecological values to reconcile multiple land use needs

Katja M Kangas, Natural Resources Institute Finland, Oulu
Anne Tolvanen, Natural Resources Institute Finland, Oulu; Department of Ecology, University of Oulu
Oili Tarvainen, Natural Resources Institute Finland, Oulu
Ari Nikula, Natural Resources Institute Finland, Rovaniemi
Vesa Nivala, Natural Resources Institute Finland, Rovaniemi
Esa Huhta, Natural Resources Institute Finland, Rovaniemi
Anne Jäkäläniemi, Department of Ecology, University of Oulu

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-08590-210305

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Abstract

We present a new method for ecologically sustainable land use planning within multiple land use schemes. Our aims were (1) to develop a method that can be used to locate important areas based on their ecological values; (2) to evaluate the quality, quantity, availability, and usability of existing ecological data sets; and (3) to demonstrate the use of the method in Eastern Finland, where there are requirements for the simultaneous development of nature conservation, tourism, and recreation. We compiled all available ecological data sets from the study area, complemented the missing data using habitat suitability modeling, calculated the total ecological score (TES) for each 1 ha grid cell in the study area, and finally, demonstrated the use of TES in assessing the success of nature conservation in covering ecologically valuable areas and locating ecologically sustainable areas for tourism and recreational infrastructure. The method operated quite well at the level required for regional and local scale planning. The quality, quantity, availability, and usability of existing data sets were generally high, and they could be further complemented by modeling. There are still constraints that limit the use of the method in practical land use planning. However, as increasing data become available and open access, and modeling tools improve, the usability and applicability of the method will increase.

Key words

biodiversity; conservation; ecological value; land use planning; modeling; spatial data; tourism

Copyright © 2016 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087