WIT Press

GIS And Logistic Regression As Tools For Environmental Management: A Coastal Cliff Vegetation Model In Northern Spain


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R. Álvarez-Arbesú & A.M. Felicísimo


One of the objectives of environmental planning is to present criteria for the conservation of biodiversity, the reduction of fragmentation of the vegetation, and the preservation of endangered communities. Correct planning requires knowledge of which are the most appropriate areas for each type of community or biotope, expressed cartographically by means of suitability models. These may be constructed by means of methods of spatial analysis which relate the current presence or absence of biological communities to a set of relevant environmental variables. Geographical information systems are an ideal tool for this task, since they integrate spatial database handling with the possibility of applying techniques of statistical analysis for model building. From a map of the environmental variables, we elaborated a suitability model for marine cliff vegetation present in the study area (a part of the Autonomous Community of Asturias, N Spain) using logistic regression techniques integrated into a geographic information system. The analysis of suitability models is useful in environmental management since it allows one to set up criteria for action in conservation and restoration by recommending priority zones and measures for the preservation of habitats declared of interest in the European Union. The present work describes in detail the methods used in constructing the models, and the results obtained. We discuss the models' capacity to serve as aids to decision making in environmental management, as well as the problems presented by the method that was used and the lines of future investigation aimed at reducing those problems.