The Advantages of Incorporating Historical Geographic Information Systems (H-GIS) into Modern Coastal Management Planning

Journal of Map & Geography LibrariesJournal of Map & Geography Libraries: Advances in Geospatial Information, Collections & Archives, 10:157–172, Published Online 23 July 2014

By Michael Reid

“As the terrestrial and marine effects of climate change continue to intensify, the value of natural habitats as a form of protection against a variety of ecological issues is becoming clear. Coastal wetlands, for example, provide protection against incoming storm surges and extreme weather, serve to improve water quality through the sequestration of various pollutants, and offer serious potential as a new source of biofuel. Unfortunately, many of the areas that have been affected by coastal habitat loss still suffer from the same problems that caused those ecosystems to change in the first place. Cities continue to release effluence into estuaries; hydrological engineering projects continue to redirect waterways that change flow and sediment patterns; and increasing populations in coastal areas all assert significant pressures on intertidal ecosystems. This ongoing changing of the landscape-and the length of time that anthropogenic factors have been influencing these habitats-has made modern-day environmental planning and management important yet complicated pursuits. As a result, planners and managers must constantly look for new tools to better understand their environment. Incorporating historically derived environmental data into geographic information systems (GIS) can enhance the quality of ecological models, which subsequently offers environmental planners and managers with a more robust understanding of the ecosystems encompassed within their project areas.”