A Multi-Criteria Evaluation Model for Rapid Assessment and GIS Mapping of Ecological Values for Informed Land Use in Small-Island Developing States

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A Multi-Criteria Evaluation Model for Rapid Assessment and GIS Mapping of Ecological Values for Informed Land Use in Small-Island Developing States

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Title: A Multi-Criteria Evaluation Model for Rapid Assessment and GIS Mapping of Ecological Values for Informed Land Use in Small-Island Developing States
Author: Wood, Kathleen M.
Citation: Wood, Kathleen M. 2016. A Multi-Criteria Evaluation Model for Rapid Assessment and GIS Mapping of Ecological Values for Informed Land Use in Small-Island Developing States. Master's thesis, Harvard Extension School.
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Abstract: Small-island developing states (SIDS) contain some of the most biodiverse ecosystems on earth (Churchyard et al., 2014), yet these countries suffer from pandemic sustainable policy failure (Mycoo, 2006), leading to significant losses in ecological assets and ecosystem services (Albuquerque & McElroy, 1992; McElroy, 2003). Many sustainability issues in SIDS arise from uninformed development practices due to a lack of economic and human resources to inform sustainable land use planning (Ghina, 2003; Douglas, 2006; Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States, 1994).

I developed a multi-criteria evaluation model (MCEM) to assess biodiversity and ecosystem service values and to address the resource limitations of SIDS. The applied MCEM combined literature review, remote sensing, rapid ecological assessment, GIS mapping and data analysis. Procedures were standardized for ease of implementation and affordability for SIDS. Presence/absence of 16 evaluation criteria, recorded during field studies, provided objective data for the MCEM, which can be applied to any land or marine area and employs readily available open-access software and imagery, thus being particularly relevant to the needs and resource limitations of SIDS.

I implemented the MCEM as a case study on East Caicos, the largest uninhabited island in the Caribbean, located in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) and currently experiencing pressure from proposed tourism development (Turks and Caicos Sun, 2013). Results indicate that the island possesses some of the most significant conservation interests in the Caribbean region. The entire island and surrounding marine habitats is an intact landscape-level ecosystem mosaic, with some of the best-preserved coral reefs, estuarine and palustrine wetlands and tropical dry forest, woodland and shrubland formations in the Lucayan Archipelago. Numerous rare, threatened, endangered and endemic species include, but are not limited to, the largest known population of the TCI endemic and IUCN Critically Endangered Caroline’s pink (Stenandrium carolinae); significant populations of IUCN Endangered and Critically Endangered coral species staghorn (Acropora cervicornis), elkhorn (A. palmata) and boulder star (Orbicella annularis complex); and significant nesting populations of IUCN Critically Endangered and Endangered sea turtles Eretmochelys imbricata and Chelonia mydas. Symbolic and experiential cultural values occur throughout the island and include Lucayan archaeological sites, areas of outstanding natural beauty and areas of scientific interest. The East Caicos multi-criteria evaluation also identified wide distributions of all other MCEM criteria.

Results suggest that the best land use for this remote island would be facilitated by the development of a multi-faceted, sustainable ecotourism plan that provides culturally appropriate, economic opportunities for local human populations, while at the same time conserving and sustaining the island’s outstanding biodiversity and ecosystem values.
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Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:33797334
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