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Ground-Truthing the Habitat Inventory for the Fraser River: Status Report and Lessons Learned March 2007 Fraser River Estuary Management Program

Ground-Truthing the Habitat Inventory for the Fraser River: Status Report and Lessons Learned March 2007 Fraser River Estuary Management Program.

Dec 31, 2015



Aubrey Cole
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  • Ground-Truthing the Habitat Inventory for the Fraser River: Status Report and Lessons Learned March 2007

  • Presentation OutlineFREMP BackgroundHabitat and Planning ToolsGroundtruthing Project 2006MethodologyFindingsDatabase development & productsLessons LearnedNext Steps

  • FREMP BackgroundIntergovernmental partnership program to coordinate the environmental management of the Fraser River estuary Partners are federal, provincial and regional governments and port authorities; work with local govts Established in 1985

  • FREMP Area=Wetted side of dike, 540km of shoreline

  • FREMP Vision:A sustainable Fraser River estuary characterized by a healthy ecosystem, economic development opportunities and continued quality of life in and around the estuary.

  • Two Main Roles:

    Policy CoordinationEstuary Management Plan, 2003Habitat & Planning ToolsWater and Land Use Committee

    2. Coordinated Project ReviewOne-window environmental review of physical works in riparian areaFREMP Environmental Review Committee

  • Habitat & Planning ToolsFREMP Habitat InventoryHabitat features of estuary (intertidal and riparian habitat)

    FREMP Habitat ClassificationsMeasure of shoreline habitat productivity (red, yellow and green colour codes)

    Area DesignationsAgreements with local govts to link habitat classifications with upland planning

  • 2003 Habitat InventoryUpdate of 1988 inventoryDeveloped from photo interpretation using aerial photosLimited groundtruthing was possible10,000+ polygons mapped in FREMP areaEcological Features and Functions Approach used

  • 2003 Habitat InventoryFirst Order Habitat (riparian and intertidal)Second Order Habitat (intertidal marsh, sandflat, mudflat, riparian trees, riparian grasses and shrubs)CommunityDominant speciesOther information (e.g. bank type)

  • Groundtruthing Project 2006BC Conservation Corps provided grant for two-person groundtruthing crew May-Oct 06Project objectives were to:Verify accuracy of the 2003 inventoryApply a more refined inventory frameworkGather additional field data, including observations of birds and invasive species

  • MethodsDeveloped data dictionary for use in field, based on refined inventoryIdentified technical needs/optionsIdentified basic proceduresBasic plant i.d.Undertook training

  • Data Collection ProceduresAccess polygon on foot, or by vehicle, boat


    ID polygon on Archer/ paper maps & observe vegetation


    Polygon Check Point: polygon is True, False or Change(and % vegetation cover noted where appropriate)


    Add Community Point to describe community and dominant speciesI

    Add supplemental information if necessary:Birds, Invasive Species, Wildlife, Wildlife Trees

  • Highlighted areas were groundtruthed in 2006

  • Database DevelopmentInputs:2003 Habitat Inventory polygonsRefined habitat inventory2006 field survey data points and linesField crew identified 2003 polygons as True, Change or FalseExamples of Change included:Vegetation of previously unvegetated areasNatural growth or succession (most common reason)Cleared, developed or under construction

  • Database DevelopmentStep 1: Modify 2003 Habitat InventoryApply updated classificationDrop some attributesStep 2: Process 2006 Field Survey DataCheck for ambiguities and errorsConvert to scientific species namesModify 2003 polygon boundariesDetermine which data will be used for direct updates to polygons Overlay with 2003 polygons to establish link

  • DatabaseDevelopmentStep 3: Merge 2003 and 2006 Data2003 data overwritten or appended, depending on whether polygon was True, Change or FalseSome True and all Change polygons were updated False polygons were revised using new information up to level of dominant speciesRemaining polygons classified as UnverifiedResult characterized as a 2006 Habitat Inventory, not as an update

  • Findings26.2 % of 2003 habitat inventory was groundtruthed (2776 polygons total; 728 on dry side of dike and 2048 on wetted side of dike)Polygon boundaries generally correct92.3% of polygons were correctly classified up to community level67.6% were True polygons24.7% were Change polygons

  • FindingsFor polygons on wetted side of dike:74.5% were classified as True (and in some cases, were updated)17.0% were classified as Change and were updated8.4% were classified as False and were amended based on refined habitat inventory

  • Final Products

    2006 FREMP Habitat InventoryMetadata based on a standardized templateGIS data layers: Habitat polygons plus point observations of Birds, Wildlife and Wildlife TreesInstalled on in-house FREMP GIS and on FREMP Atlas

  • Lessons LearnedImprove pre-field work preparation:Test field equipment (Archer-GPS)Finalize data dictionary formatFamiliarize field crew with original dataset, field equipment and softwareEnsure field crews skilled in flora and fauna identification (botanist)Field crew familiarity with land uses before commencing groundtruthing

  • Lessons LearnedIn the field:Observe polygons at low tide and consider boat access to some areasConsider seasonal variability and blooming timesEnsure regular team feedback/check inHigher quality GPS (such as Trimble) could provide more accurate spatial data and allow mapping of new polygons in field

  • Lessons LearnedDatabase developmentDatabase and GIS expertise criticalTake the time to clean up field dataEmphasize importance of database integrity (typos, domains)Partner involvement key to successAllocate adequate time for project

  • Next StepsBCCC project in summer 2007Remap/map areasPromote dataset as mgmt toolInvasive species observations and management