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Monitoring Forest Change in Landscapes Under-Going Rapid Energy Development: Challenges and New Perspectives

1
Department of Forest Resources Management, University of British Columbia, 2424 Main Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada
2
Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences, University of British Columbia, 2424 Main Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada
3
Bandaloop Landscape-Ecosystem Services, 1011 Hendecourt Road, North Vancouver, BC V7K 2X3, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Land 2014, 3(3), 617-638; https://doi.org/10.3390/land3030617
Received: 30 April 2014 / Revised: 19 June 2014 / Accepted: 23 June 2014 / Published: 2 July 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Land Change Modeling: Connecting to the Bigger Picture)
The accelerated development of energy resources around the world has substantially increased forest change related to oil and gas activities. In some cases, oil and gas activities are the primary catalyst of land-use change in forested landscapes. We discuss the challenges associated with characterizing ecological change related to energy resource development using North America as an exemplar. We synthesize the major impacts of energy development to forested ecosystems and offer new perspectives on how to detect and monitor anthropogenic disturbance during the Anthropocene. The disturbance of North American forests for energy development has resulted in persistent linear corridors, suppression of historical disturbance regimes, novel ecosystems, and the eradication of ecological memory. Characterizing anthropogenic disturbances using conventional patch-based disturbance measures will tend to underestimate the ecological impacts of energy development. Suitable indicators of anthropogenic impacts in forests should be derived from the integration of multi-scalar Earth observations. Relating these indicators to ecosystem condition will be a capstone in the progress toward monitoring forest change in landscapes undergoing rapid energy development. View Full-Text
Keywords: landscape structure; disturbance detection; anthropogenic disturbance; disturbance regime; resilience; North America; forest land use; oil and gas; Bakken shale; oil sands; Anthropocene landscape structure; disturbance detection; anthropogenic disturbance; disturbance regime; resilience; North America; forest land use; oil and gas; Bakken shale; oil sands; Anthropocene
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Pickell, P.D.; Gergel, S.E.; Coops, N.C.; Andison, D.W. Monitoring Forest Change in Landscapes Under-Going Rapid Energy Development: Challenges and New Perspectives. Land 2014, 3, 617-638.

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