Spectacular hike today! Larch trees are the perfect shade of yellow. 💛🌲 pic.twitter.com/6tzETw88EH Retweeted by Fiera Biological

Habitat Condition Rating Index

The objective of this project was to develop a Habitat Condition Rating Tool that can be used by the City of Calgary Parks Department to measure and track habitat condition in Natural Environment Parks (NEPs) over time. This included the development of a predictive desktop tool that allows managers to estimate habitat condition in Parks by measuring and tracking human disturbance within and surrounding the Park using GIS and remote sensing.

In addition, Fiera developed a field-based Rapid Assessment Method (RAM) tool that could be used to assess and measure habitat condition in Parks through field assessment. In order to create a cost-effective tool, we used Park condition scores that were derived in the field to construct a Human Disturbance Index that correlated strongly to field-derived Park condition scores, such that Parks with a high habitat condition score (i.e., good condition) had a correspondingly low human disturbance score (i.e., low amount of human footprint within or surrounding the Park). All of the human disturbance metrics used to calculate the human disturbance scores can be measured using existing and freely available spatial data; thus, the City can estimate and track Park condition using simple GIS analysis. These Park condition scores can be verified in the field using the RAM field assessment protocol as resources (both personnel and budget) allow.

The Habitat Condition Rating Tool gives the City Parks Department a cost-effective and flexible tool that not only tracks changes in habitat condition over time, but also allows the City to begin to set management targets for habitat condition within Parks, and provides information for how and where to direct resources to maximize limited habitat restoration money.

Connectivity Analysis

The second phase of this project included an assessment of the habitat connectivity within the City of Calgary using a current flow model. This model was parameterized using spatial datasets derived specifically for use in this analysis, including an up to date land cover, a canopy tree model, a high-resolution digital terrain model, and a traffic volume model. This analysis identifies areas within the City with high habitat connectivity and provides land managers with information about the ecological function and value of the existing Parks network.

City of Calgary Parks Department

Project Duration
Since April 2014