"A quantitative evaluation of the continuum of human influence on the lands surface"
The Northern Appalachian/Acadian ecoregion is 330,000 square kilometers in area. It is home to 3.8 million people that live in 1.8 million dwellings and travel the region on a network of 324,000 km of roads and 10,000 km of rail.
The Human Footprint maps the accumulated impact of human activities on the lands surface.
To map the Human Footprint of the Northern Appalachians we have considered the impact of Human Population (population density, dwelling density), Human Access (roads, rail), Human Landuses (urban areas, agriculture, forestry, mining, large dams) and Electrical Power Infrastructure (Utility Corridors).
The Human Footprint tells us that greater than 99% of the Northern Appalachian ecoregion is currently impacted by human activities, however 16% remains relatively wild (Human Footprint score <=10) and ecologically intact. Theses wild areas are shown in green on the map above, while the areas most impacted are in red and purple.
Notice how many of the low impacted areas (green, yellow) are separated - fragmented - from each other by zones of high impact (purple, red, orange).
If we want to keep the Northern Appalachian/Acadian ecoregion connected, and for wildlife to thrive, we must work to reduce our impact on the land, particularly in these zones of high impact to ensure that wild, intact, areas remain wild and stay connected to each other. We can do this with careful land use planning and with targeted restoration in areas of conservation importance.
The Human Footprint methodology
was originally developed at the global scale by a team of scientist from WSC and CIESEN
. We have tailored this methodology to the Northern Appalachian ecoregion by:
1. Increasing the resolution of the Human Footprint map from 1km to 90m
2. Using high resolution digital map data available for the regions from U.S. and Canadian agencies
3. Tailoring the impact of human activities to the ecoregion
for a list of the datasets used to map the Human Footprint of the Northern Appalachians.
The Last of the Wild
From the Human Footprint we extract the "Last of the Wild". The "Last of the Wild" are the 10 largest wild areas within each ecological subregion of the Northern Appalachain/Acadian Ecoregion. There are 12 ecological subregions resultign in 120 "Last of the Wild" in the Northern Appalachain/Acadian Ecoregion.
Woolmer, G., Trombulak, S.C., Ray, J.C., Doran, P.J., Anderson, M.G., Baldwin, R.F., Morgan, A. and Sanderson, E.W. 2008. Rescaling the Human Footprint: A tool for conservation planning at an ecoregional scale .Landscape and Urban Planning. Vol 87 Issue 1. p 42–53. Download
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