Understanding the current, and historical, extent of human development is an important component to effectively managing ecosystems. Habitat loss and fragmentation are the leading causes of species loss globally, and although Alaska is thought to be 95% intact (Trammell and Aisu 2015), the location and intensity can have important impacts on local and regional resources. However, a detailed, comprehensive dataset showing human development has yet to be created for the state of Alaska.
The Alaska Center for Conservation Science at the University of Alaska Anchorage, in partnership with the Northwest Boreal Landscape Conservation Cooperative, embarked on a project to map and quantify the human footprint across interior Alaska and northwestern Canada. The goal was to build a seamless dataset that spanned state, provincial and territorial boundaries to represent an initial look at intactness in the boreal ecosystems of western Canada and Alaska. This project builds upon work done by Ducks Unlimited Canada. Below you will find fact sheets organized by topical area describing some of these anthropogenic footprint datasets, including details on methods and accessibility. Although our goal was to create a comprehensive representation of these footprint activities, we were limited to data that was publicly available, so this likely represents an underestimation of where humans are modifying the landscape.
WHAT: This project assembled datasets representing the past and present human footprint across the Northwest Boreal Landscape.
WHERE: Northwest Boreal LCC spans across almost 40% of Alaska, 90% of the Yukon, 20% of British Columbia, and 7% of the NWT.
WHO: Alaska Center for Conservation Science staff gather data from federal, state, local, tribal, and non-governmental agencies.
DATA CITATION: Geist, M., M. Aisu , P. Lema & E. J. Trammell. 2017. Spatial estimates of surface mining footprints in northwest boreal ecoregions of Alaska and Canada.
DATA CONTACT: If you have updated data and would like to incorporate your information into this footprint, please contact Marcus Geist at mageist (at) alaska.edu or 907-786-6325.
WHY: The Alaska Climate Science Center and the Northwest Boreal LCC expressed a need for landscape scale datasets which can be used for habitat modeling, connectivity evaluations, and a means to more fully measure cumulative impacts.
WHEN: The project began in 2014 with data updates through 2017.
We expect these datasets can inform numerous resource and land managers decisions including:
- Choose where to initiate or continue biological, chemical, and ecological monitoring
- Identify potential remediation sites that appear to have significant cumulative impacts
- Inventory possible restoration locations for development projects requiring mitigation
- Utilize footprint data for conservation planning.
We anticipate that these datasets will help guide scenario planning efforts within and beyond the boreal ecosystem of Alaska, the Yukon Territory, and parts of the Northwest Territories and British Columbia.