Using Satellite Images to Determine Green Space Connectivity in Metro Vancouver: Trade-offs between enhancing biodiversity or ecological justice

Dr Nicholas Coops and graduate student David Williams are using geospatial technology and data to produce an up-to-date, contiguous land cover classification of the Metro Vancouver area from high-resolution remote sensing data.

The classification process involves a fusion of LiDAR and RapidEye multispectral data and will produce a highly accurate land cover product for Metro Vancouver, a regional planning authority. From this land cover map and supplemental information, green space connectivity will be assessed using Conefor, connectivity analysis software based on graph theory.

Connectivity will be assessed from two management perspectives, biodiversity and ecological justice. This approach will test the hypothesis that managing urban green space networks solely from a biodiversity perspective could exacerbate already-existing inequalities of access to green space and the ecosystem services it provides to people in Metro Vancouver. Because inequality of access to urban ecosystem services is a global issue, the results of this research may have significance beyond the study region alone. Connectivity analysis can aid regional decision-making in diverse arenas – from development and infrastructure siting, to conservation and green space planning, and the pursuit of social equity outcomes. The methods used in, and results of, this research will be an important quantitative contribution not only to remote sensing science, but to the literature on social-ecological systems, which is in need of quantitative case studies.


Nicholas Coops

Nicholas Coops
Department of Forest Resources Management
2424 Main Mall
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4
Phone: 604–822–6452