Date of Award
Master of Science
AN ABSTRACT OF THE THESIS OF MICHAEL D. GASKINS, for the Masters of Science degree in FORESTRY, presented on FEBRUARY 26, 2010, at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. TITLE: A GIS APPROACH TO PRIORITIZE PRIVATE LANDHOLDINGS IN THE LOWER KASKASKIA RIVER CORRIDOR INCORPORATING MIGRATORY BIRD HABITAT CRITERIA MAJOR PROFESSOR: Dr. Eric Holzmueller Loss of forested area and corresponding increase in forest fragmentation has decreased Neotropical migrant bird habitat quality across the Midwestern United States. Typically, efforts to increase habitat quality by reforesting agricultural areas are done on a first come, first serve basis. In order to increase the efficiency of these restoration efforts, a prioritized ranking system is needed to obtain the greatest increase in habitat quality possible for the fewest amount of hectares restored to forest. This project examines the use of a GIS based multi-criteria approach to prioritize lands for reforestation in the Kaskaskia River Corridor (KRC), Illinois. We prioritized areas for reforestation based on nine landscape metrics: available agricultural land, forest cover gaps, edge density metric, proximity to river, 200 m corridor area, total forest core area metric, fringe core area, distance to primary core value, and primary core area. The multi-criteria analysis revealed that high priority areas for reforestation were most likely to be close to the riparian corridor and existing large blocks of forest. Analysis of simulated reforestation (0, 0.5, 1.0, 5.0 10.0, 25.0, and 50.0% of highest priority parcels reforested) revealed different responses for multiple landscape metrics used to quantify forest fragmentation following reforestation, but indicated that the KRC would get the greatest rate of return on reforestation efforts by reforesting 10.0% of the highest priority areas. This project demonstrates how GIS and a multi-criteria analysis approach can be used to increase the efficiency of restoration projects. This approach should be considered by land managers when attempting to identify the location and quantity of area for restoration within a landscape.
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