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Application of GIS to biodiversity monitoring

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Recently, there has been a revolution in the availability of information and in the development and application of tools for managing information. Information needs for biodiversity are many and varied. Any database that deals with biodiversity information has to be geographically based, and able to predict where new populations of endangered species with a limited known range might be expected, indicating potential hot spots. An important tool for monitoring biodiversity is a geographic information system (GIS), which accommodates large varieties of spatial and a spatial (attribute) data. The information embedded in a GIS is used to target surveys and monitoringcschemes. Data on species and habitat distribution from different dates allow monitoring of the location and the extent of change. This paper discusses issues related to (a) the need for biodiversity information and databases, (b) the importance of national information strategies, and (c) the application of GIS as a tool in monitoring biodiversity, and (d) a case study of a GIS-based approach applied to endangered arboreal species in Egypt. It applies the overlay analysis of maps of endangered plant species’ ranges onto the maps of protected areas (declared and proposed). The output is threefold: (a) a complete database of endangered arboreal species as they are listed in the Egyptian Plant Red Data Book (El-Hadidi et al., 1991) and their spatial distribution, (b) the relative contribution index for each of the protected areas (proposed and declared) in the conservation of the biodiversity of threatened arboreal species in Egypt, (c)
a gap analysis that identifies the areas in need of conservation, and (d) an illustration of the relationship between the location of arboreal species and the location of internationally important bird areas.

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