Title

Preliminary Collection and Analysis of Base Data in Support of a Management Plan for the Salonga National Park, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Publication Date

7-2003

Committee Chair

Tarek Rashed, Ph.D.

Committee Members

Hugh Keegan, ESRI
Witold Fraczek, ESRI

Abstract

Africa’s largest tropical rainforest reserve, the Salonga National Park, is the habitat of many endemic endangered species. It has been designated by the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) as a protected preservation area, prohibiting the use or destruction of animal and plant species inside of its boundaries. This project was commissioned by the Central Africa Regional Program for the Environment (CARPE), by request of the Federal Wildlife and Protected Area Agency of Congo (ICCN). This project was supported to aid in the protection of the Salonga, to contribute to low impact development of this region, and to promote tourism in the Congo. There are several human threats imposed on the natural habitat of species living inside the park. These threats relate to activities including illegal timber extraction, poaching, natural resource extraction, and illegal cultivation. A management plan is essential to preserve this precious park resource. Before a management plan can be implemented, the necessary tools to develop it must be provided. There are currently no published geographic maps or impact analyses of the Salonga National Park, making it difficult to implement a management plan. This project does not create a management plan itself, but it provides some of the preliminary tools that may be used to establish an effective management plan for the park: a base map, a vegetation map, a low impact trail suitability analysis map, and landscape ecology analyses. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and remote sensing techniques were used to perform these analyses and generate the resultant maps. Both the base map and vegetation map were derived from the classification of satellite imagery to describe the current state of the park. Spatial multi-criteria analyses were applied to identify potential places for the construction of a low impact trail. Landscape metrics were used to quantify the aerial extent and spatial configuration of homogeneous patches within the landscape of both the northern and southern sectors of the park between 1987 and 2000. Analysis results indicate that the forest inside of the boundaries of the Salonga National Park has changed from 1987 to 2000. It is also apparent that these changes are different in the northern and southern sectors of the park. This project was successful in creating maps and conducting analysis concerning the changes that have occurred in the park from 1987 to 2000 based on images acquired by satellite sensors. In so doing, the project shows the benefits of integrating this timely source of information and GIS, and how this integration can expedite the development and implementation of an effective management plan for the park.

Full text is available at the University of Redlands

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