Integrating landscape ecology in environmental impact assessment using GIS and ecological modelling


  • M. Gontier


Ecological assessment in environmental impact assessment and strategic environmental assessment processes requires improvements. The descriptive and qualitative nature of many ecological assessments suggests a need to develop and implement quantitative and predictive methods to assess problems such as fragmentation and impacts on biodiversity. Such tools, from basic GIS applications to more advanced ecological models, already exist and have reached a level of development that allows practical implementation outside the research sphere. The chapter presents a literature review on the potential application and advantages of ecological models and GIS-based methods in carrying out ecological assessments in the Environmental Impact Assessment and Strategic Environmental Assessment processes. The implementation of such tools translates into practice certain concepts of landscape ecology related to ecological dynamic or spatial and temporal scales. Although data requirements and the complexity of ecological models are limitations to their reproducibility and application range, the integration of landscape-ecology concepts in ecological assessment through the use of ecological models and GIS tools would contribute to the sustainable management of landscapes and their ecological resources. Finally, I argue that predictive modelling and GIS tools can also serve as a platform to integrate other landscape components that can be characterized spatially such as recreational and cultural values