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The ecological roles of golf courses in urban landscapes

Nguyen, Thi Thu (2022) The ecological roles of golf courses in urban landscapes. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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The proliferation of urban golf courses accounts for a growing proportion of the urban land area in Australia and other countries. While many suggest that golf courses have an environmentally negative impact, others believe they are important nodes in the network of urban green space and can provide refugial habitat for wildlife. However, research on golf course ecology is in its infancy and this limits development of explicit guidelines for ecologically sound development. Therefore, this PhD research used remote sensing technology to investigate the ecological roles of golf courses in maintenance of vegetation at the urban landscape scale. The thesis explores temporal and spatial landscape data as well as the possible cooling effects golf course can provide in the Perth Metropolitan Region.

The multifunctional aspects of green spaces in golf courses are highlighted in this study. Firstly, by using moderate resolution satellite imagery (Landsat) time series data for three decades from 1988 to 2018 to assess temporal changes in vegetation cover, the study found that vegetation clearance was significant and vegetation cover has become increasingly fragmented. It was concluded that golf courses contribute to urban conservation through the maintenance of vegetation cover and by increasing habitat connectivity during the long period of urbanisation. Secondly, high resolution satellite imagery (PlanetScope (PS) Level 3B) was then used to compare spatially the characteristics of vegetation within golf courses with other urban land-use. It found that golf courses have less conservation values than conservation land, but their role in preservation of native vegetation, vegetation health and habitat connectivity is more significant than other highly intensive urban land-uses. Thirdly, analysis of multispectral high resolution airborne imagery for assessing the capacity of golf courses in mitigating the urban temperature revealed that urban golf courses can provide cooling effects in the urban environment through the provision of tree coverage and other green areas.

Despite limitations of the research being carried out at the landscape scale, the findings of the thesis can enhance the future integration of golf courses into urban biodiversity conservation and ecosystem service improvement.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Agricultural Sciences
Supervisor(s): Dell, Bernard, Harper, Richard and Barber, Paul
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