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A GIS inventory of trails in John Forrest National Park Western Australia

Shaharyar, Muhammad (2016) A GIS inventory of trails in John Forrest National Park Western Australia. Masters by Coursework thesis, Murdoch University.

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Protected areas are facing serious threat due to direct and indirect impacts of human activities. Official and vistor created trails monitored and investigated for management and protection purpose. Geospatial tools are highly implacable in impact assessment and inventory research. GIS inventory was conducted to understand the spatial distribution of formal and informal trails in the study area. We estimated that the linear distribution of trails is 151km of which 52% are informal trails. We have explored that the minimum width along user created trails is 0.6 meters, and the maximum width is 3 meters with a mean value of 2.3m. The inventory estimated the trail footprint covers an area of 69ha in the national park (out of 2676). User activity is an important aspect of trail inventory by analysing trails attributes (width, slope, TTF) off track activities have been identified as well. Flatter and wider trails are an indictaion of ORV and management vehicles driving on trails. Hotspots such as vandalism, TTFs, and informal boundary intersections were mapped as well, clearing vegetation on an area of 138ha in the study area. We observed that approximately 197ha of vegetation been lost due to planned, unplanned trails and hotspots. Trail slope is significant for impact assessment can be used to estimate erosion potential and hazard assessment. Slope distribution models (with 0 to 25 interval) were developed for formal, informal trails in the national park. Steeper slope, lower width is an indication of bike riding and walking on user created trails. We verified trail parameters and user related issues (Trail technical features, width, length, activity, vandalism, informal boundary intersects, ORV, bike riding on both planned and unplanned tracks) while ground-truthing survey (appendix figure 2). Comparing our inventory results with investigations conducted around the world accuracy were found around 75% to 78% (varying with a spatial and spectral resolution of available data). We concluded that GIS and remote sensing is capable of conducting inventory, efficiency can be improved by using higher spatial resolution data and then integrating inventory with field survey. We recommend that park management should involve users (bike riders) in data collection process as to educate them and understand their behaviour.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters by Coursework)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Supervisor(s): Newsome, David and Kobryn, Halina
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