Landscape Connectivity Analysis for Conservation Planning in Southern Ontario
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The strategic planning of land conservation is a critical undertaking in urban/peri-urban areas. Natural areas in cities and their surroundings exist in an environment of competitive land use pressures, where the allocation of available land may be complex and politically charged. Organizations pursuing land conservation in these areas must balance biodiversity aims with fiscal and resource limitations, a competitive market, and the need for decision-making accountability. To support the prioritization of conservation lands for protection, analysts may incorporate landscape connectivity analysis. By quantifying how the configuration of habitat facilitates species movement, connectivity analysis provides a rationale for conservation planning that supports the dispersal of species across the urban/peri-urban matrix. While connectivity analysis is useful for conservation planners, several factors have created a confusing environment for those interested in employing it. These include the rapid proliferation of connectivity research, the inconsistent use of methods and terminology, and an absence of updated selection guidelines for practitioners. Thus, my research evaluates how conservation organizations may best use landscape connectivity analysis to support conservation planning in urban/peri-urban areas. In this thesis, a systematic review of urban/peri-urban connectivity literature is followed by application of review results to a conservation planning case study in Southern Ontario. Reflections on these two research phases support a proposed framework that outlines the pivotal decisions, organizational limitations, and best practices for using landscape connectivity analysis for conservation planning. This provides tangible benefit for organizations protecting and stewarding natural lands, particularly in areas like the urban/peri-urban matrix of Southern Ontario.
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Sarah Marshall (2024). Landscape Connectivity Analysis for Conservation Planning in Southern Ontario. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/20200