Environmentally Significant Areas 2014 Provincial Update

The primary objective of this project was to review, revise, and combine previously selected Environmentally Significant Areas (ESA) and Aquatic Environmentally Significant Areas (AESA) criteria, in order to create an updated ESA model for the province. To achieve this, a GIS-based multi-criteria decision analysis (GIS-MCDA) was used as the foundation for quantifying, weighting, and identifying ESAs. The ESA framework included Criteria and Indicators that were selected to represent elements of environmental significance that were measured at the quarter section level.

Spatial data for each indicator was compiled to determine whether the existing and accessible data were appropriate for use in the model. Each dataset was reviewed for comprehensiveness, coverage, reliability, and accuracy. If the dataset did not meet the criteria for inclusion, it was discarded. Over 20 different datasets were obtained from a variety of sources, totaling more than 2.5 million records.

Given that the topology and geometry of the spatial data for each indicator varied (e.g., point, polygon, raster), a decision about whether the indicator was present within a quarter section had to be made. Once quarter section membership was determined, the indicator was quantified using methods that were appropriate for the metric. Each indicator was then assigned a score ranging between 1 and 3 using either Boolean algebra or Jenks Natural Breaks Classification. For each quarter section in the province, weighted indicator values were aggregated for each criteria to determine a final criteria value. Criteria values were then summed by quarter section to calculate a final ESA value, creating a continuous ESA surface for the province.

Client
Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation

Project Duration
February 2013 to March 2014