An Exploratory Methodology for Quantifying Land-cover Patterns Along Permanent Open-water and Disturbance Levels for Large-Scale Wetland Reclamation
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Wetlands are multi-functional systems that provide a disproportionate number of ecosystem services given the spatial extent they occupy both nationally and globally. The ecological functioning of these wetlands is dependent on the structure of the landscape, which poses unique challenges when reclaiming wetlands in areas where resource extraction is occurring. Resource extraction mega-projects require that entire landscapes be reclaimed and often involve timelines that necessitate the consideration of climate projections to create self-sustaining, naturally appearing wetlands, that integrate with the broader landscape and meet policy objectives. A parsimonious set of landscape metrics was applied to 13,676–1km2 random sample landscapes to quantify the variation in the composition and configuration of land-cover. Landscape metric values were compared across levels of the proportion of permanent open-water wetland (up to 20%), anthropogenic disturbance and across natural regions (i.e., Grassland, Parkland and Boreal). Results demonstrate statistical differences between landscapes comprising 0-80% and 80-99.9% disturbance in the Boreal and Parkland regions and statistically significant differences among the 0-20% disturbed landscapes in the Grassland region. While differences in landscape pattern were present among the disturbance levels between 0-80% in the Boreal and Parkland region, these were less systematic. Further, the majority (>85%) of permanent open-water wetlands in our samples were found to have less than or equal to eight percent (0.08km2) of their total area classified as permanent open-water wetland, which is a smaller proportion than what is typically found in closure plans. This exploratory method highlights that permanent open-water alone is inadequate to capture changes resulting from anthropogenic disturbances in wetland-rich landscapes and that regulators should to enforce the creation of multiple wetland types and consider climate change in closure plans. We discuss our results, issues, the novelty of applying such methods to landscape-level reclamation and make suggestions for further work.
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Jennifer Ridge (2019). An Exploratory Methodology for Quantifying Land-cover Patterns Along Permanent Open-water and Disturbance Levels for Large-Scale Wetland Reclamation. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/14381