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Fifty-year spatiotemporal analysis of landscape changes in the Mont Saint-Hilaire UNESCO Biosphere Reserve (Quebec, Canada)

  • Marc Béliveau
  • Daniel GermainEmail author
  • Ana-Neli Ianăş
Article

Abstract

Diachronic analysis with a GIS-based classification of land-use changes based on aerial photographs, orthophotos, topographic maps, geotechnical reports, urban plans, and using landscape metrics has permitted insight into the driving forces responsible for landscape fragmentation in the Mont Saint-Hilaire (MSH) Biosphere Reserve over the period 1958–2015. Although the occurrence of exogenous factors, such as extreme weather and fires, can have a significant influence on the fragmentation of the territory in time and space, the accelerated development of the built environment (+470%) is nevertheless found to be primarily responsible for landscape fragmentation and the loss of areas formerly occupied by orchards, agriculture, and woodlands. The landscape metrics used corroborate these results, with a simplification of the shape of polygons, and once again reveal the difficulties of harmonizing different land uses. MSH has become somewhat of a forest island in a sea of residential development and agriculture. To counter this isolation of fragmented habitat components, forest corridors have been proposed and developed for the Biosphere Reserve and particularly for the core area. Two corridors, to the north and south, are used to connect the protected area and other wooded areas at the regional scale, in order to promote genetic exchange between populations of various species. In that regard, the forest buffer zone around the hill continues to play a key role and has great ecological value for species and ecological preservation and conservation. However, appropriate management and landscape preservation actions should recognize and focus on landscape composition and the associated geographical configuration.

Keywords

Landscape fragmentation Biosphere reserve Mont Saint-Hilaire 

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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Département de GéographieUniversité du Québec à MontréalMontréalCanada
  2. 2.Institut des Sciences de l’EnvironnementUniversité du Québec à MontréalMontréalCanada
  3. 3.Department of GeographyWest University of TimisoaraTimisoaraRomania

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