As an outdoor recreation enthusiast and former park maintenance technician, park planning, integration, and management are never far from my mind when enjoying wilderness areas. This bibliography is intended as an educational resource showing how geographic information sciences (GIS) and remote sensing (RS) can be employed to effectively plan parks, integrate them into existing wilderness areas while also meeting conservation objectives, and manage them for posterity. Please submit any questions or feedback through the ‘Contact the author’ link at the bottom of the page. I hope you enjoy your wilderness recreation learning experience!
1. Boers, Bas, and Stuart Cottrell. “Sustainable Tourism Infrastructure Planning: A GIS-Supported Approach.” Tourism Geographies, vol. 9, no. 1, 2007, pp. 1–21., https://doi.org/10.1080/14616680601092824. Accessed Oct. 2021.
In this paper, Boers and Cottrell examine an approach to planning for and developing a “sustainable tourism infrastructure planning (STIP) framework” to wildlife areas using a geographical information systems approach. This approach involves three phases and this process was applied in the Sinharaja Forest Reserve in Sri Lanka to test efficacy. This research aims to identify, map, and implement transportation to and within wilderness areas in a way that best supports visitors and minimizes effects on the wilderness area itself. GIS is central to this strategy, since it can assess current infrastructure, identify new locations suitable for project objectives, and facilitate visualization and simulation of multiple proposed alternatives. Data was collected in 2000 via interviews, surveys, and qualitative observations to best assess the carrying capacity for trails and visitor services. This data was then added to a GIS in a weighted raster format to determine zones of interest. Finally, the ‘Least Cost Path’ function was used to optimize a path which served the most visitor opportunities and was closest to the most service facilities. Finally, the cost of each path was calculated and the results ranked. This study provides a framework through which trail planning for new wilderness recreation areas can be achieved and optimized.
2. Olafsson, Anton Stahl, and Hans Skov-Petersen. “The Use of GIS-Based Support of Recreational Trail Planning by Local Governments.” Applied Spatial Analysis and Policy, vol. 7, no. 2, 2013, pp. 149–168., https://doi.org/10.1007/s12061-013-9094-7. Accessed Oct. 2021.
This study looks at the applications of GIS in recreational planning in Denmark to determine the extent, specificity, and potential for uses of GIS technologies in park planning. Surveys were distributed to 98 Dutch municipalities’ parks departments, questioning their approaches to trail planning using GIS technologies. The results show that in planning for recreation trails using GIS, three primary factors are most important to success: experience of the user, quality of the data used in the GIS (both digital and physical), and field work/ground-truthing. This study points to the viability and, indeed, necessity of using GIS in planning for wilderness recreation areas, though the authors emphasize that this is the case only when the users are advanced/highly proficient.
3. Brown, Greg. “Public Participation GIS (PPGIS) for Regional and Environmental Planning: Reflections on a Decade of Empirical Research.” Urban and Regional Information Systems Association Journal, vol. 25, no. 2, 2012, pp. 7-18., http://www.landscapevalues.org/publications/urisa_journal_2012.pdf. Accessed Oct. 2021.
This study is an examination of public participation GIS (PPGIS) and how it can be used in planning for national parks. Brown discusses a case study where PPGIS was employed and highlights the usefulness of PPGIS, as well as its limitations in managing a National Park for both visitor use/enjoyment as well as conservation/preservation. Throughout the analysis of the case study, Brown points to the long history of PPGIS being used as a governmental and nongovernmental tool to facilitate public engagement in park and land planning. Specifically, Brown mentions that PPGIS is beneficial in park planning since it helps break open the often closed-door stakeholder meetings to give perspectives from stakeholders who may not have been able to get representation at the table. To demonstrate, the author looks at the procedures from 17 studies done in three countries over a decade. These studies collected geographic data from random park users about their use of parks and specific spatial attributes which were valuable to them. This data can help inform decision-making processes, identify areas of social interest and significance, and can lend local and regional stakeholder input to a planning process for new and existing parks.
4. Brown, Greg, and Delene Weber. “Public Participation GIS: A New Method for National Park Planning.” Landscape and Urban Planning, vol. 102, no. 1, 2011, pp. 1–15., https://doi.org/10.1016/j.landurbplan.2011.03.003. Accessed Oct. 2021.
Brown and Weber discuss public participation GIS (PPGIS) in this 2011 paper. PPGIS methodology is dissected from a 2009 park planning study and the strengths and weaknesses of the approach are highlighted. This case study used PPGIS to gather community input for planning of 9 park units across 5 national parks, a wilderness area, and three historical sites. This study came at a time of review of the management plan of the parks and seeks to help update the plan to incorporate public feedback on where visitor experience could be improved as well as perceived impact on the environment of the study areas. The 2009 survey procedure consisted of two parts and was administered to both visitors and park staff. Part one was interactive mapping by participants to measure the experiences and perceived environmental impact of the area. The second part was a characteristic survey of the participant to generate participant demographics. Results were then translated into a GIS and used to generate differing management zones and levels of service for visitor amenities. As Brown and Weber point out, this information gives park planners terrific insight into several key metrics which can be incorporated into a decision-making process: visitor experience and preferences, visitor impacts as identified by staff, and staff experience and preference(s). These metrics could be collected for any new or existing park plan to create enhanced service areas, visitor experience, and to minimize visitor impact in sensitive areas.
5. Kliskey, A.D. “Recreation Terrain Suitability Mapping: A Spatially Explicit Methodology for Determining Recreation Potential for Resource Use Assessment.” Landscape and Urban Planning, vol. 52, no. 1, 2000, pp. 33–43., https://doi.org/10.1016/s0169-2046(00)00111-0. Accessed Oct. 2021.
In Kliskey’s paper, the author details the application of GIS software to transform survey data into a suitability map for recreational snowmobilers in British Columbia. Kliskey uses a recreation terrain suitability index (RTSI) technique to best represent the users stated preferences. 309 snowmobilers were asked about their regular habits when they went out to recreate and also about their preferences for sites to recreate at. There was a respondent rate of 45%. Using principal component analysis, researchers got 6 principal components from the surveys which were important to recreationalists (openness, road access, remoteness, slope, snow conditions, and topography). Next, canopy and topographical data was taken from the BC Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Forests to be used in the suitability analysis. Each of the principle components were then weighted and the overlay of the maps was conducted in the Tangier watershed in the North Columbia Mountains. The result was a map showing different classes of suitability for snowmobiling. This paper is immensely powerful as a recreation planning tool, since it allows for user preference to dictate suitability. This can then be integrated with ecological data showing sensitivity, for example, to create a map showing where a new wilderness recreation area could be designated. This would have the effect of creating an area with high user satisfaction and low ecological impact.
6. Zheng, Yu, et al. “Visual Sensitivity versus Ecological Sensitivity: An Application of GIS in Urban Forest Park Planning.” Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, vol. 41, 2019, pp. 139–149., https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ufug.2019.03.010. Accessed Nov. 2021.
Zheng et al. investigate the use of GIS in balancing visitor usability and satisfaction in Tianzhu Mountain National Forest Park with the ecological sensitivity of park ecology in this study. First, using slope, distance, and visibility as proxy for a visual sensitivity metric, Zheng et al. used photographs and a topographic map obtained from GaoFen-1 to produce a digital elevation model (DEMs), used to identify areas of high visual sensitivity on high use trails in the park. These areas were then subjected to the ‘Visibility’ spatial analyst tool and assigned a class of visual sensitivity. Second, ecological sensitivity of the park was assessed using weighted criteria including slope, aspect, distance to river, elevation, and vegetation. One map was then generated for each criteria, giving a total of five ecological sensitivity maps, each representing a different criteria. These maps were then combined to produce a final map with the ecological sensitivities for the entire park. Finally the visual and ecological sensitivity maps were overlaid, giving the final map of any potentially intersecting points. This study demonstrates a valuable method for planning wilderness recreation areas which will be exciting and visually striking (thus enticing) to visitors while also balancing the sometimes delicate nature of the ecosystems present in wilderness recreation areas.
7. Geneletti, Davide, and Iris Van Duren. “Protected Area Zoning for Conservation and Use: A Combination of Spatial Multicriteria and Multiobjective Evaluation.” Landscape and Urban Planning, vol. 85, no. 2, 2008, pp. 97–110., https://doi.org/10.1016/j.landurbplan.2007.10.004. Accessed Nov. 2021.
Multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) is a powerful tool in a park planner’s toolkit since it allows for many different factors to be considered and weighed at the same time to produce an optimal outcome. This paper looks at the application of MCDA to effectively zone Paneveggio-Pale di S. Martino (PPSM) Natural Park using GIS technology. The park contains three levels of management, each with differing or conflicting criteria. Geneletti and Van Duren aimed to rezone the park based on suitability of land cover to each of the levels of management. To accomplish this, the authors first divided the park into units of ecology and then applied their MCDA process to each of the land units. This yielded a suitability map showing which level of management each land unit was suitable for. The approach Geneletti and Van Duren take here could be extremely useful in integrating a wilderness recreation area into an ecologically sensitive zone. The MCDA approach gives parks managers the ability to weigh the aspects of the park and the surrounding ecology they want to emphasize and reduce the noise of other aspects which are of less importance. The second benefit of this approach is that this breaks up the study area into units of ecology, rather than geographic blocks. This is helpful because it allows for more tailored approach to integration and identification of areas more or less suitable for recreation or conservation aims.
8. Phua, Mui-How, and Mitsuhiro Minowa. “A GIS-Based Multi-Criteria Decision Making Approach to Forest Conservation Planning at a Landscape Scale: A Case Study in the Kinabalu Area, Sabah, Malaysia.” Landscape and Urban Planning, vol. 71, no. 2-4, 2005, pp. 207–222., https://doi.org/10.1016/j.landurbplan.2004.03.004. Accessed Nov. 2021.
It is often a reality that wilderness parks or conservation areas have multiple stakeholders with different or even opposing viewpoints on management action and/or options. In their 2005 paper, Phua and Minowa used Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis supported by GIS to address conservation objectives in Kinabalu, Malaysia. Different indicators were chosen and weighted for this study to represent three different conservation-oriented stakeholder objectives and preferences. These included forest and ecosystem biodiversity, soil and water functions, and potential threats. The authors then combined field work, literature, and remote sensing techniques to generate maps in a GIS representing the indicators mentioned above. Finally, these maps were run through a compromise program to show areas of highest suitability for meeting all stakeholder criteria. This program generated 3566 new polygons. 11 of theses polygons were identified as the most suitable for a new wilderness area based on their connectivity, distance from settlements, and forested nature. These 11 polygons were finally overlaid on a map of the adjacent Kinabalu Park and the existing road network to show a new area which connects to the park and does not encounter any roads. This study demonstrates how planners can integrate not only existing wilderness parks, but completely new parks into existing park/reserve structures using multi-criteria analysis, remote sensing, and GIS mapping. For application in wilderness park planning specifically, new aims from relevant stakeholders could be collected and reweighted to include visitor and recreation objectives alongside conservation aims.
9. Tomczyk, Aleksandra M., and Marek Ewertowski. “Planning of Recreational Trails in Protected Areas: Application of Regression Tree Analysis and Geographic Information Systems.” Applied Geography, vol. 40, June 2013, pp. 129–139., https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apgeog.2013.02.004. Accessed 26 Nov. 2021.
Tomczyk and Ewertowski present a methodology for using GIS software and recreation area user input processed with regression tree analysis to create trail systems in protected areas which balance the objectives of recreation with the needs of conservation. This method was tested using data collected in the Gorce National Park, Poland, and included indicators of trail degradation which were analysed to understand the relationships between human use and environmental stress. This information was then applied to finding new trails with minimized impact.
The indicators used to assess and predict trail degradation included the type of trail (non-motorized/motorized), slope, soil type, ect. This information was then added to a GIS database containing Gorce National Park which included layers such as a DEM, soil classes, and other park characteristics and features. Next, the uses and demands on each trial were assessed based on user input. Combining the trail degradation information and user inputs, a regression tree analysis was performed to assess the current trail degradation and help predict the future potential degradation. These areas were designated on the map, and were then used in a least-cost path function to find the routes with the least impact through the park area.
This study presents a very comprehensive, yet simple method for integrating multiple recreation types and needs into a broader conservation-oriented area. This method relies on fairly simple and easy to collect inputs as well as short, practical analysis to understand use and overuse in parks, as well as to model solutions for problems of degradation.
10. Rocchi, L., et al. “Recreation vs Conservation in Natura 2000 Sites: A Spatial Multicriteria Approach Analysis.” Land Use Policy, vol. 99, 2020, p. 105094., https://doi.org/10.1016/j.landusepol.2020.105094. Accessed 26 Nov. 2021.
Rocchi et al. discuss using a multi-criteria decision analysis for integrating nature-based tourism (NBT) into the Natura 2000 Network (N2K) network in central Italy. The authors aim was to use suitability and capacity criteria from three expert sources to assess which parks in the Umbria region may be able to expand NBT opportunities, which should stabilize at current usage, and which should reduce usage to create the optimal balance of tourism and conservation. To accomplish this, the authors combined the criteria provided by experts with spatial data using mapping software to produce the optimized output maps. In this study, the authors used a QGIS plugin, VectorMCDA, which is unique among the mapping software discussed elsewhere in this bibliography and allows for “…complete integration between GIS and MCDA, [meaning] that they use the same interface and database.” This plugin used with a method designed to identify geographic points with the most ideal placement toward desirable alternatives and away from undesirable ones (TOPSIS, or Technique for Order Preference by Similarity to Ideal Design). Factors chosen to be in the MCDA included habitat conservation status, habitat priority, human activities, recreation impacts, biodiversity and wildlife breeding indices, etc. These factors were then weighted and applied to the TOPSIS algorithm to generate the ideal point output map. This final map showed that only several of the many sites in the Umbria region were suitable for expansion of recreational opportunities.
The benefits of this study to recreation and conservation integration in wilderness recreation areas are immense. The methodology described in this paper provides an alternative method of applying MCDA to other methods described in this bibliography. The customizability of MCDA and its ability to be combined with spatial data in a GIS empower planners and managers to set any goals they wish and model the feasibility and impact of these decisions before investing fully.
11. Landres, Peter B., et al. GIS Applications to Wilderness Management: Potential Uses and Limitations. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, 2001.
Landres el al. give a short, simple consideration of the many applications of GIS technology in managing wilderness areas under the jurisdiction of the US Forest Service. The authors also stress that there are limitations and potential drawbacks. Addressing the useful applications first, Landres, et al. discuss GIS as a means of quickly and efficiently managing and storing inventories and assessments of natural and recreation resources. Mapping campsites, visitor services, and trail assessments based on user density could be a fantastic tool for park managers to understand which areas are in need of more upkeep or maintenance. The authors also consider the uses of GIS in planning for “what if” scenarios; this type of management potentially requires modeling, which a GIS could be extremely useful in producing. The second part of this report focuses on the limitations of GIS for the US Forest Service, including the potential loss of the feeling of exploration as a result of mapping extensively, the cost and labor of maintenance of a GIS, and the steep learning curve of introducing GIS technologies to park managers. In summary, this paper gives a very basic overview of the applications of GIS in managing wilderness areas for both conservation and recreation.
12. Michael, Wing, and Bo Shelby. “Using GIS to Integrate Information on Forest Recreation.” Journal of Forestry, Jan. 1999, pp. 12–16., https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1093/jof/97.1.12. Accessed Nov. 2021.
In their 1999 paper, Wing and Shelby use GIS mapping to visualize levels of use from different recreation groups in McDonald-Dunn Research Forest near Corvallis, Oregon. The data was collected via survey of recreationalists encountered at major access roads to the forest. Data was collected for multiple seasons to account for any changes in use. The survey results were based on user’s access points, the type of recreation they were engaged in, and the routes they took through the forest. These answers were then coded into Microsoft Excel and then into ARC/INFO for visualization. This map of seasonal usage can be used to identify choke points throughout the park, as well as identify areas which may need more services for park maintenance and improved visitor satisfaction. For park managers, this is a simple yet effective way to utilize GIS mapping to manage and improve a recreation area.
13. Gross, John E., and Ramakrishna Nemani. “Remote sensing for the national parks.” Park Science, vol. 24, no. 1, June 2006, pp. 30–36., https://www.researchgate.net/publication/259286117_Remote_sensing_for_the_national_parks. Accessed Nov. 2021.
Remote sensing can be a low cost, relatively simple way to monitor changes to a given area over time. In this paper, Gross and Nemani detail the applications of remote sensing technology to observe and document changes to National Parks in the United States. Gross and Nemani provide a brief overview of several different kinds of remotely sensed images from providers such as IKONOS, Quickbird, and Landsat, comparing pixel and spectral resolutions. They also provide real examples of uses for each type of imagery from different National Parks. This paper provides an excellent beginner resource to different sources and resolutions of remote sensing imagery, as well as real applications. These uses are immensely beneficial to park and wilderness recreation area managers since they include monitoring spread of invasive species, performing animal population surveys, mapping and modeling fire behavior and potential, modeling potential changes to soil and water resources, and characterizing landscape dynamics.
14. Yeqiao Wang et al. “Remote sensing of land-cover change and landscape context of the National Parks: A case study of the Northeast Temperate Network.” Remote Sensing of Environment, Vol. 113, no. 7, 2009, pp. 1453-1461., https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rse.2008.09.017. Accessed Nov. 2021.
In this paper, Yeqiao et al. complete a 30-year temporal comparison of urbanization and deforestation within and surrounding National Parks, National historic Sites, and segments of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. Comparisons were done along trails and park bounds from .5, 1, and 5 km buffers. In total, 33 Landsat photographs were obtained spanning from 1970 to 2002. Land cover classes were determined and then assigned to the imagery using supervised, unsupervised, and stratified classification techniques. These classes were also ground-truthed. Buffers were then applied to the park boundaries and trail segments and changes in urbanization and deforestation were calculated. The results showed substantial increases in urbanization and decreases in forest cover around parks and trails. The relevance of this project to wilderness recreation area management lies in the use of remote sensing to observe changes to park boundaries. This information is useful because it may point to incoming edge effects as a result of dual urbanization and deforestation.
15. SH, Sonti. “Application of Geographic Information System (GIS) in Forest Management.” Journal of Geography & Natural Disasters, vol. 05, no. 03, 1 Oct. 2015, https://doi.org/10.4172/2167-0587.1000145. Accessed Nov. 2021.
In this paper, SH explains the rapid adoption and development of GPS, GIS, and Remote Sensing technologies in a myriad of fields and applications. They then discuss the application generally, before turning to the specific uses of GIS in forest management. These applications include resource inventories and extraction schedules, fire planning and management, and recreation planning and maintenance. Three case studies accompany, detailing the uses of GIS in each. First SH explores the case study of the Arabuko Sokoke Forest, Kenya, where high resolution photos of the forest were used to create maps detailing changes in land cover in and around the forest. Second, SH shares how GIS was vital in facilitating a participatory GIS process by which the communities of Tinto were able to map and classify and inventory the forest they used to apply for a community forest designation from the government in Cameroon. Finally, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, GIS and RS were employed to create a forest atlas for more intelligent management of the forest resources. All three of the case studies in this paper point toward the potential usefulness of GIS and RS technologies in maintaining wilderness recreation areas. Creating an atlas for such areas to enhance inventories and monitoring of land cover changes, or engaging in participatory GIS to increase visitor satisfaction would both be excellent uses.
16. Gajda, Anna M. T., et al. Managing Coastal Recreation Impacts and Visitor Experience Using GIS, vol. 5, United Stated Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station Proceedings, 2000, pp. 115–123.
In British Columbia Canada, Gwaii Haanas National Park was chosen as an area to employ GIS to investigate the effects of recreationalists as it pertained to the ecology of the park and the cultural heritage of the Haida Nation. As a result of a dispersed camping policy, certain areas were being affected more than others; impacts would be assessed and added to the park’s GIS for management consideration. To assess the impact, Gajda et al. compiled a list of campsite and cultural heritage locations. They then visited each campsite at least twice to get a baseline evaluation and then comparison data to be used against the baseline. Sites were assessed using radial transects from which photographs and written descriptions could be taken. The sites were then assigned a condition based on ecological sensitivity and cultural sensitivity to be monitored against. Finally, the sites were added into the GIS for Gwaii Haanas. The results of the survey showed that over one season of use, 52 of the 75 sites surveyed showed high to extreme cumulative impacts. This is important, because at least 30 of the sites represented high or extreme ecological sensitivity, and 77% of sites were of high or extreme cultural sensitivity. From these results, recommendations were made on a per-site basis to accept the level of use, restore the site, or close the site (temporarily or permanently). This study shows the relative ease with which GIS can be used to mark, categorize, and monitor the impact of wilderness use by recreationalists for management action, if need be.
17. ArcGIS Solutions for Protected Area Management. Managing Protected Areas. August 29, 2019. https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/c10f1596870e4e788d3f687935bfd1ae. Accessed November 23, 2021.
This Story Map introduces a useful new software land managers may employ for advanced spatial analytics that are specific to protected area management. Through a collaboration of National Geographic Society and ESRI, ArcGIS Solutions for Protected Area Management software gives conservation-specific tools to land and protected-area managers. The aim of this software is to provide four tailored solutions to park managers to meet their objectives: ecology solutions, infrastructure solutions, outreach solutions, and protections solutions. The ecology solutions tools focus on helping wildlife managers track and monitor animals in and around the lands they manage. Infrastructure solutions are geared toward aiding in inventories and asset management. The outreach solution tools help facilitate discussions about spatial management and communicate about changes to managed areas. Finally, protection solutions allow for targeted incident response and mitigation. The second part of this presentation is a demonstration of the effectiveness of ArcGIS Solutions for Protected Area Management by African Parks, African People & Wildlife, the Peace Parks Foundation, and the Jane Goodall Institute.
18. Gross, John, et al. “Remote Sensing for Inventory and Monitoring of U.S. National Parks.” Remote Sensing Applications Series, 2011, pp. 29–56., https://doi.org/10.1201/b11453-4.
In Gross el al. (2011), the authors discuss the Park AnaLysis and Monitoring Support (PALMS) project as a highly effective way to minimize costs while monitoring selected important environmental indicators in more than 270 individual parks nationwide. The indicators listed include stream biota, primary production, habitat connectivity, etc. and the merits and reasons for selection of these indicators was explained. This program could be implemented in each park as a way to use remote sensing in a surgical way to gain inventory and management knowledge that is specific to each park. The successes and limitations of implementation of PALMS into the National Parks Service were then discussed. Successes included the use of web-based tools to minimize training, flatten learning curves, and ensure proper organization and storage of data, as well as the comprehensiveness and cost-effectiveness of the PALMS strategy. The challenges discussed included the coordination of personnel at many different locations, the amount of data which needed to be analyzed, and the expertise needed to analyze the results in a context-specific way for each of the park’s data.
This paper provides an interesting look into a remote sensing method which could monitor site-specific critical indicators to give a cost-effective overview of park health and function.
Gross, John E., et al. “Application of Remote Sensing to Parks and Protected Area Monitoring: Introduction to the Special Issue.” Remote Sensing of Environment, vol. 113, no. 7, 2009, pp. 1343–1345., https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rse.2008.12.013.
Mohd, Z. H., and U. Ujang. “Integrating Multiple Criteria Evaluation and GIS in Ecotourism: A Review.” The International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences, XLII-4/W1, 2016, pp. 351–354., https://doi.org/10.5194/isprs-archives-xlii-4-w1-351-2016. Accessed 26 Nov. 2021.
Wang, Yeqiao, et al. “Remote Sensing Applications in Monitoring of Protected Areas.” Remote Sensing, vol. 12, no. 9, 2020, p. 1370., https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12091370.
Willis, Katherine S. “Remote Sensing Change Detection for Ecological Monitoring in United States Protected Areas.” Biological Conservation, vol. 182, 2015, pp. 233–242., https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2014.12.006.
Andrea Lane Jacobs. Parks in Peril: How will climate change affect the United States’ national parks?. June 10, 2020. https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/e9881e1be5b54121acf45e6628f17c66. Accessed November 26, 2021.