To generate the intermediate factors and constraints that were used in the creation of the ESI, the ecological data had to be prepared for analysis. This data pre-processing workflow is revealed in Figure 7. Generally, the preparation followed a simple workflow:
1) Project the data to a coordinate system (NAD 1983 UTM Zone 10N).
2) Clip the data to the extent of Mount Seymour Provincial Park.
3) Convert the shapefile features to raster.
4) Resample the data to a common cell size.
The exception to this workflow was the DEM, for which a slope was derived before resampling and reclassification. To obtain the extent of Mount Seymour Provincial Park, the park was selected from a dataset containing all the national and provincial parks within British Columbia and exported to a new feature.
Figure 7. Data preparation for the ESI.
The Ecological Sensitivity Index (ESI)
Using a weighted linear combination, an ESI of Mount Seymour Provincial Park was created. As is clear from Figure 12, much of Mount Seymour Provincial Park is highly ecologically sensitive. 63 percent of parkland is considered highly ecologically sensitive (a value of 1 on the sensitivity index). This is a surprising result given the high visitor base and the fact that Mount Seymour Provincial Park does not delineate areas of conservation or protection. Much of this sensitivity can be explained by two constraints: the slope constraint and the critical habitat constraint. Areas of the park where the slope was 30 degrees or higher, and thus of the highest sensitivity, totaled 15.1 km2. Habitat critical to the endangered Marbled Murrelet totaled 12.70 km2. Only 0.22 km2, or 0.6 percent of parkland is considered not sensitive at all (a value of 0 on the sensitivity index), and all of the non-sensitive landcover is water. This means that all of the non-water parklands have some degree of sensitivity. The mean sensitivity across the park is 0.83, and the regions of lowest sensitivity are the winding Mount Seymour Road in the park's southern tip and Mount Seymour Resort in the southwest. Vegetation cover, which was the most strongly weighted of the factors in the ESI, contributed to the low sensitivity of these areas. These areas achieve a lower sensitivity due to their lack of vegetation, as in the parking lot of Mount Seymour Resort, or the presence of low sensitivity vegetation, like the grasses by the side of Mount Seymour Road.
Figure 16. The Ecological Sensitivity Index of Mount Seymour Provincial Park.
Tourist Impact Index
A final Tourist Impact Index was created by combining the ESI and tourist density (Figure 17). Higher values of the Tourist Impact Index correspond to both a high tourist density and a high ecological sensitivity. The highest value of the Tourist Impact Index was 0.69 on a 0-1 scale, and two locations, Mount Seymour Resort and Mount Seymour Peak, had index values between 0.6-0.69. This result, however, is not always due to a high value of both tourist density and the ESI. For example, Mount Seymour Resort is a building and a parking lot which includes no vegetation or soil types whatsoever but has a high tourist density. On the other hand, Mount Seymour Peak has a high ESI value, while having a moderate level of tourist traffic. 32.96 km2, or 94 percent of park land, experiences no tourist impact regardless of ecological sensitivity. Overall, the results of the Tourist Impact Index indicated that the ecologically sensitive areas of the park were not impacted by presence of tourists, with the exception of Mount Seymour Peak.
Figure 17. The Tourist Impact Index of Mount Seymour Provincial Park.
The mean ESI value across tourist density hotspots ranged from 0.29 to 0.98. These values revealed a moderate-to-low (0.20-0.60) level of ecological sensitivity for some hotspots, and a high (0.60+) level of ecological sensitivity for most of the hotspots (Figure 18). Theses results indicated that hotspots 1, 2, 4, 6, and 7 were located in highly sensitive areas within the park, while the rest of the hotspots are located in low to moderately sensitive areas of the park. Both hotspots 1 and 2 were located near the Mount Seymour Peak; both were within 300 metres of the centre of the peak. Hotspots 4, 6 and 7 were all located just north of the resort, on the Perimeter Trail. Thus, the results of the hotspot analysis suggested that restrictions on tourist movement in these areas might be needed.
Figure 18. The results of the zonal statistics analysis between hotspots and the ESI index. The graph shows mean ESI value for each hotspot (represented as dots), as well as the standard deviations surrounding the mean values. Created in R Software version 3.3.0