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GIS as a Rapid Decision-support Tool for Raptor Conservation Planning in Urbanising Landscapes

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Rapidly transforming landscapes are places in which biodiversity loss is likely. Where urbanisation is rapid, conservation planners are often unable to afford the necessary time to adequately gather data and assess threats to biodiversity. Better methodologies are required to inform decision making about development assessments and conservation planning. This paper argues for adopting GIS (geographic information systems) that incorporate available scientific and community-based data and scenarios modelling within the policy framework, to derive geographic surrogates and impact surrogates for conservation planning. This methodology is applied to a pilot study of raptors on the Sunshine Coast, Australia, and evaluates its efficacy. Preliminary results suggest that, while there are some limitations, this methodological approach offers useful insights to conservation planning. Other key findings imply that current planning frameworks are insufficient to protect raptors in this area. Non-remnant vegetation was an important habitat at the regional scale; while the importance of the 'sustainable caneland' precincts was demonstrated for most species, including critical species. In the Sunshine Coast, both of these habitats are vulnerable to future urban development.
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Keywords: Conservation planning; Sunshine Coast; data integration; decision support; raptors; urbanisation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of the Sunshine Coast, Maroochydore, DC, Australia

Publication date: 01 December 2009

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