Preserving the earth’s natural landscape is often an overlooked aspect of conservation. Humans have influenced the change of the land so much that often its original features are lost. Open spaces, connected ecosystems, and sites of cultural heritage can be lost in the grand scheme of growth and development. GIS works as a tool to monitor these areas and target landscapes in need of conservation.
The Human Footprint
The extent of the human footprint, our species' mark on the earth, is vast. The growing human population has increased the demand for housing materials, clean water, and land for crops and pastures to meet agricultural needs. The size of open space and land untouched by humans diminishes daily. Conservation of open spaces is difficult to balance with the land-use needs of the human population. However, the ability of GIS technology to overlay areas desired for conservation, property lines, and areas that are best used for agricultural purposes gives us the ability to use land more effectively and enables the preservation of open space, limiting the extent of our footprint.
Combating Fragmentation and Protecting Biodiversity
Fragmentation is one of the greatest threats to the environment. Interrupting the way organisms naturally interact is degrading to their health and well-being, which will eventually lead to a decrease in their numbers. GIS can be used to track logging, mining, and other disruptive human behaviors to ensure forest linkages remain intact.
Biodiversity is equally important because the environment’s diversity and the way organisms interact are crucial to its survival and sustainability. Utilizing GIS technology, environmentalists can track, monitor, and study wildlife demographics and behaviors so as to ensure their survival.
Saving Cultural Heritage Sites
Conserving cultural heritage sites is important to preserving cultures around the world. GIS aids in protecting areas important to the peoples of the world by managing and analyzing cultural resource data. GIS technology provides a means to overlay various important aspects of cultural heritage to create a visualization of the best areas to focus conservation efforts.