School of Agriculture, Food and Ecosystem Sciences - Theses

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    Applications of GIS in community based forest management in Australia (and Nepal)
    BARAL, HIMLAL ( 2004)
    Community forestry is now a popular approach in forest management globally. Although local communities have previously been involved in forest management in various minor ways, community-based forestry is very new in the Australian context. Because of the multiple interests of forest users and other community interest groups, a wider range of up-to-date information is being requested in community forestry, than has been used in ‘conventional’ government-based forest management in the past. The overall aim of this research was to explore the potential and constraints for the application of Geographic Information System (GIS) technology in community forest management in Australia and to relate the results also to Nepal. Specific objectives were to: (i) review the applications of GIS in forestry and community forestry worldwide, (ii) determine stakeholders’ views on their requirements for the use of GIS in community-based forest management, (iii) prepare and demonstrate various practical applications of GIS requested by community groups in the Wombat State Forest, (iv) identify the strengths and limitations of GIS in community forestry, and (v) relate findings on GIS applications in Australia to community forestry in Nepal. This study involved a combination of three approaches: review of global literature on GIS, use of GIS and related technologies, and participatory action research. A wide variety of spatial information was identified through community groups as important for community forest planning and management.
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    Ecosystem goods and services in production landscapes in south-eastern Australia
    BARAL, HIMLAL ( 2013)
    Ecosystem goods and services (EGS), the benefits that humans obtain from ecosystems, are vital for human well-being. As human populations increase so do demands for almost all EGS. Managing changing landscapes for multiple EGS is therefore a key challenge for resource planners and decision makers. However, in many cases the supply of different types of goods and services can conflict. For example, the enhancement of provisioning services can lead to declines in regulating and cultural services, but there are few tools available for analysing these trade-offs in a spatially-explicit way. This thesis developed approaches and tools for spatially explicit measurement and management of multiple EGS provided by production landscapes. These were used to assess the impacts of land-use change and to provide a basis for managing these trade-offs using case studies in two contrasting production landscapes in south-eastern Australia. Both landscapes have been subject to extensive clearing of native vegetation, which is now present in remnant patches. One study landscape had a concentration of commercially-valuable hardwood and softwood plantations, and the other was dominated by land traditionally focused on agricultural production that is currently being re-configured to provide for more sustainable farming practices and to increase provision of multiple ecosystem services. The study involved five components: (i) development of a novel, qualitative approach for rapid assessment of EGS in changing landscapes that was used to assess observed and potential changes in land use and land cover and their impact on the production of different EGS (Chapter 2); (ii) development and testing of an approach for assessing multiple EGS across space and time using a case study of six key EGS in a sub-catchment in Lower Glenelg Basin, south-western Victoria that demonstrated landscape-scale trade-offs between provisioning and many regulating services (Chapter 3); (iii) an economic valuation of EGS using market and non-market techniques to produce spatial economic value maps (Chapter 4); (iv) spatial assessment of the biodiversity values that underpin provision of many ecosystem services utilising a variety of readily available data and tools (Chapter 5); and (v) assessment of trade-offs and synergies among multiple EGS under current land use and realistic future land-use scenarios (Chapter 6). Results indicate that EGS can be assessed and mapped in a variety of ways depending on the availability of data, time, and funding as well as level of detail and accuracy required. A qualitative assessment can be useful for an initial investigation (Chapter 2) while quantitative and monetary assessments may be required for detailed landscape-scale planning (Chapters 3, 4). In addition, the provision of EGS by production landscapes can vary considerably depending on land use and land cover, and management choices. The study demonstrates that landscapes dedicated mostly to agricultural production have limited capacity to produce the range of ecosystem services required for human health and well-being, while landscapes with a mosaic of land uses can produce a wide range of services, although these are often subject to trade-offs between multiple EGS (Chapters 2, 3). Furthermore, the study demonstrated that spatial assessment and mapping of biodiversity value plays a vital role in identifying key areas for conservation and establishing conservation priorities to allocate limited resources (Chapter 5). There is potential for an improved balance of the multiple EGS required for human health and well-being at the landscape scale, although the economic incentive to adopt more sustainable land use practices that produce a wide range of services are compromised due to the lack of economic valuation of public ecosystem services (Chapter 6). High hopes have been placed by researchers on spatial assessment, mapping and economic valuations of ecosystem goods and services to influence policy makers for coping with the accelerating degradation of natural capital. The approaches and tools used in this thesis can potentially enhance our collective choices regarding the management of landscapes for multiple values and can help policy makers and land managers to enhance the total benefits that landscapes provide to societies through the provision of an optimal mix of goods and services.