Using a GIS to develop a landscape-level analysis of stream riparian buffers, Keene, NH

Littleton, Jeffry N.
Jon Atwood, PhD
Department of Environmental Studies
I used a geographical information system (GIS) to develop a coarse-filter, landscape level analysis of selected natural resource attributes adjacent to stream riparian zones in Keene, New Hampshire. A total of 2,347.6 hectares of riparian buffers were studied. A series of geospatial data was analyzed to develop a riparian buffer model, as well as priorities for the conservation and restoration of riparian buffer zones. The riparian buffer model was based on the presence of sensitive landscape features, including floodplains, wetlands, highly erodible soils, and steep slopes. An attribute assessment model was developed to assign conservation priorities based on co occurrences of unfragmented lands, connectivity with conserved lands, significant natural resources, and potential development threats, habitat loss and channelization was used to define priorities for potential restoration sites. I identified 614.3 hectares as an immediate priority for conservation, 768.1 hectares as a high priority, and 965.2 hectares as an immediate priority for conservation. A total of 482 hectares were identified for potential restoration. This study demonstrated the need for conservation and restoration, as well as the inadequacies of a fixed-width buffer system as a means to protect streams.

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