Managed Areas Database

Key words: protected areas

The earth's biota is disappearing at an alarming rate across the globe, and protected areas play a critical role in preserving plant and animal species from extinction. As concern over ecosystem degradation increases, so does the need for accurate, up-to-date information on the spatial location and aerial extent of currently managed and protected areas. This need represents the fundamental motivation for creation of this Managed Areas Database (MAD).

MAD is a comprehensive GIS database for the conterminous United States which includes all types of managed areas. Examples include National and State Parks and Forests, Wilderness Areas, Indian and Military Reservations, and National Wildlife Refuges. Researchers at the Remote Sensing Research Unit have compiled this database by integrating a number of data sources diverse in scale and map projection. The database has been compiled as a 1:2,000,000 scale product, and both the precision and accuracy of the database are in accord with that scale. A full accuracy evaluation of MAD has not yet been performed, although it is planned. It is asked that users provide feedback regarding both the positional and thematic accuracy if errors are detected so that a verification and revision process can be completed. Based on this feedback, one updated version of MAD will be released. Ideally, this update process will be ongoing, but at this time, the mechanism and responsibility for future revision and long-term database maintenance has yet to be determined. This process should be carried out by government agencies or NGO's dedicated to the task. We hope a responsible group will step up to this need.

MAD can be used with supplementary environmental data sets for applications in conservation planning, to determine protection status, preserve selection and design, climate change research, and a wide variety of other environmental studies. This database will help researchers to determine where ecosystems are adequately protected under current policies and where additional preserves should be located in the future. MAD includes information on the level of protection each management designation provides, data sources used for compilation, place names of these managed areas, and a number of additional attributes. Issues being addressed include integration of diverse map sources, selection of scale, minimum mapping unit and map projection, and classification of protection levels. After appropriate verification and revision, MAD may someday be part of a necessary global coverage of managed areas. This effort at RSRU complements similar activities being performed by national and international agencies such as the World Conservation Monitoring Center (WCMC), United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), and the National Biological Service (NBS).

**Special Note** We at the RSRU are very interested in finding a responsible agency to take over the update/upkeep process for the MAD database. Upkeep of this type of database is not a research oriented aspect as was creation of such a database and staffing is extremely limited for this task. Since MAD has been described as "incredibly valuable" by many of the research community, it is hoped that someone such as USGS, Nature Conservancy, etc. would be willing to take over. If you have influence with any of these agencies, please urge them to consider this undertaking. Any interested parties should please e-mail me. Thanks, Gavin


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***This page created/maintained by R. Gavin McGhie
LAST UPDATED 10-23-01