Remote sensing in regional natural resources monitoring and mapping: Challenges and solutions in Chicago wilderness conservation

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Date of Original Version



Chicago Wilderness is more than 81,000 ha. of protected areas in the urban and suburban matrix, as well as a coalition of more than ninety organizations committed to their survival. The long-term health of these imperiled communities depends on proper management of the more extensive, restorable lands that surround and connects the patches of high quality. Information critical to the success of conservation efforts in the region includes (1) a current vegetation map of Chicago Wilderness, in sufficient detail to make quantitative goal setting possible for the region's Biodiversity Recovery Plan; (2) quantified fragmentation status of the natural communities; and (3) patterns of land-cover change and their impact on the vitality of communities under threat. We used Landsat remotely sensed data and associated ground truthing to produce the current vegetation map. With multitemporal remote-sensing data we derived land-cover maps of the region in 1972, 1985, and 1997. Change detection analysis reveals the rapid acceleration of urban and suburban sprawl of the Chicago region in the past two decades. Satellite images provide striking visual comparisons of land use and health, as well as banks of geographically referenced data to make quantitative tracking of trends possible. The data provide biological foundation of quantitative goals for regional biodiversity restoration.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences - ISPRS Archives



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