GIS & Ecological Economics
GIS for Poesten Kill Watershed Resiliency Project
Amala Consulting is providing GIS Support for the Poesten Kill Watershed and Flood Mitigation Project. Amala is working with the Rensselaer Plateau Alliance, Chazen Companies and Inter-fluve to on this project to ultimately assist communities by providing them direction for improving their resilience to flooding and for protecting their natural resources.
Trail Maps for the Rensselaer Plateau Alliance (RPA)
Amala Consulting develops trail maps for numerous Rensselaer Plateau Alliance properties.
Preserve and Trail Maps for the Rensselaer Land Trust (RLT)
Amala Consulting worked with the Rensselaer Land Trust (RLT) to develop new preserve and trail maps, creating both static and interactive maps for their new website.
Trail and Trail Vision Mapping in Rensselaer County, NY
Amala Consulting worked with the Rensselaer Plateau Alliance to create a map of existing trails across Rensselaer County. Through a participatory process, data was collected from the public in order to create a Trail Vision map for the region.
Mapping of Water Quality Monitoring
on the Marcellus Shale
This project, funded by National Science Foundation (NSF) research grant, and headed by Dr. Abby J. Kinchy of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) , examined the knowledge and ignorance about the impacts of unconventional shale gas drilling on surface water in New York and Pennsylvania. The research aimed to identify and explain the gaps in knowledge about the impacts of gas drilling through a variety of analysis techniques including qualitative interviews, surveys of volunteer watershed organizations and water monitoring groups, socio-spatial and statistical analysis using ArcGIS, and comparative qualitative analysis of focused case studies.
Amala Consulting aided in the socio-spatial and statistical analysis, including hot spot analysis, and density and intensity analysis. Specifically, Amala Consulting helped to: (1) identify hot spots and cold spots of water quality monitoring, (2) rank counties by density and intensity of water quality monitoring, and (3) examine the correlation of these rankings with a variety of factors, such as education or income level.
A few of the maps created by Amala Consulting are shown below. For more information on this research project and to view more maps created by Amala Consulting, visit the Watershed Knowledge Mapping Project.
Ecological Community Mapping on the Rensselaer Plateau
Beginning in 2011, Amala Consulting began working with the Rensselaer Plateau Alliance to create a comprehensive dataset of all ecological communities on the Rensselaer Plateau in New York State. The project consisted of digitizing and attributing over 14,000 polygons, as well as numerous rivers and streams. Given the large amount of data, Amala Consulting worked with the Rensselaer Plateau Alliance to create a process to partially automate the digitization of the ecological communities. Amala Consulting also aided in the creation of numerous other data sets, such as forest blocks, a refined roads layer, and important ecosystems. This project is in the final stages, as final maps are in the process of being edited.
Economic Value of Ecosystem Services on the Rensselaer Plateau
Ecosystem services are the benefits that human beings obtain from ecosystems. Applying the spatial value transfer methodology, Amala Consulting estimated the economic values of ecosystem services on the Rensselaer Plateau. A final written report, including an executive summary, maps and tables, was provided to the Rensselaer Plateau Alliance.
The Rensselaer Plateau was categorized into six land cover types: cropland, forest, lakes and reservoirs, riparian buffers, rivers and streams and wetlands. Each of these land cover types provides a unique set of ecosystem services. The ecosystem services valued included: biological control, disturbance prevention, gas and climate regulation, habitat refugium and biodiversity, nutrient regulation, cultural, pollination, recreation and aesthetics, soil retention and formation, waste assimilation, and water regulation and supply.
By regulating and supplying water, reducing severity of disturbances, such as floods, and providing pollination and waste treatment services, as well as other benefits, the ecosystems on the Rensselaer Plateau provide just over $300 million in benefits each year. This value was broken down in terms of land cover type and ecosystem service type. The values provided in the final written report provide an idea of the general magnitude of the economic value of ecosystem services on the Rensselaer Plateau.
Rensselaer Plateau Community Values
Amala Consulting worked with the Rensselaer Plateau Alliance and the Cornell Cooperative Extension to conduct a participatory mapping workshop. Community members worked together in small groups to identify and geographically locate areas which they valued for various reasons, such as recreation, historic, aesthetic or biodiversity. From the data obtained from the workshops, Amala Consulting digitized and attributed the community values, creating density maps of the values. Additionally, by combining these community values with ecological values, socio-ecological hotspots were identified.
Thailand: Ecosystem Services & Human Well-being
This research was conducted under the United Nations Development Programme, in conjunction with the Well-being and Sustainable Development Research Group (WeSD) at Khon Kaen University of Thailand. As part of the UN's Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, Sub-global Assessments are being conducted in various regions of the world. These Sub-global Assessments aim to identify links between ecosystem services, human well-being and drivers of change.
During this project, we aided in the preparation of a background assessment report of ecosystems services, human well-being and drivers of change in various provinces in Thailand. Additionally, a comprehensive survey on human well-being and ecosystem services was developed.
A paper containing some of the findings of this research can be found at:
Parks, S. 2012. Divergent pathways of development: Human Wellbeing and Ecosystem Services in Two Thai Provinces. Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, 30(5): 891 - 909.
Years of experience and education allow Amala to engage in in-depth interdisciplinary projects. For GIS needs, we can create visually appealing maps, can undertake more complex spatial analyses or can develop new data sets. With two PhD Ecological Economists, Amala Consulting can partake in comprehesive research projects.