Multi-Layer Assessment of Land Use and Related Changes for Decision Support in a Coastal Zone Watershed
Received: 1 October 2012 / Revised: 1 December 2012 / Accepted: 7 December 2012 / Published: 13 December 2012
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In order to address the challenges in coastal regions, there is the need to understand the extent and impacts of past changes and their implications for future management. Land use data and remotely-sensed imagery are often used to provide insights into these
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In order to address the challenges in coastal regions, there is the need to understand the extent and impacts of past changes and their implications for future management. Land use data and remotely-sensed imagery are often used to provide insights into these changes. Often, however, existing land use data are inconsistent, thus differences observed through their analyses could also be attributable to error. The use of multiple layers of data, in addition and as related to basic land use layers, has been suggested in the literature as a method to mitigate such error. This study used existing land use data, population, stream flow, climate and water quality data with a view to determining what information could be discerned from multi-layer analyses and whether or how it could be used in watershed-level management decision making. Results showed that all the datasets provided useful, but not necessarily complemental, insights into spatial and temporal changes occurring in the watershed. The information obtained did, however, provide a broader perspective on watershed dynamics, which would be useful for watershed-level decision making. Overall, the multi-layer approach was found suitable in the absence of consistent land use data, provided results were interpreted in context, considering the historical perspective and with a working knowledge of the watershed.