Geographic Information Systems collect and integrate large quantities of geographic data and make this information available and legible to scientists, legislators, and citizens. With these tools we can help provide the public with a deeper understanding of their relation to their ecosystem, and make better informed decisions regarding their environment.
HEnRI is currently working with Donald Steinmetz, a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) specialist, on creating an interactive GIS map of the Highlands Region. This database, once completed will contain information on the biological, geological, hydrological, and cultural resources of the Highlands. HEnRI is also working on creating a downloadable three-dimensional basemap of the Highlands for use by the region's scientists, advocates, land owners, and citizens groups. We have already completed the base map, and regularly update our database with new information.
The Highlands region is blessed with a rich diversity of natural communities. From oak and tulip forests, to large and small wetlands, to clear lakes, the Highlands provide a place for all to enjoy the beauty and wonder of nature. It is because of the richness of plant and animal life contained within these natural communities that Parks throughout the region are among the most visited in the country. Therefore, it is essential that we work hard to conserve these vital natural resources for future generations to enjoy.
Because sustaining biodiversity is essential to maintaining healthy ecosystems, HEnRI has provided information to State, local, and non-profit organizations in support of this goal. GIS maps provided by HEnRI have provided vital information on locations of rare, threatened, and endangered species and been used as guides for mapping invasive species in wetlands across the New York Highlands.
Open Space Preservation
Across the Highlands, human development is encroaching upon the natural environment in ways that have never been seen before. Luckily, many citizens groups, State and local organizations, and non-profits are working together to promote the use of sustainable development techniques, and promoting the value of open space.
HEnRI believes that protecting open space is an important component of maintaining a healthy environment. In order to further the goal of protecting open space, HEnRI has aided the NY Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation its endeavors to protect land by providing GIS maps and information.
Cell Towers & Water Lines
In 2006, the Palisades Interstate Park Commission upgraded the system that provided drinking water to the many group camps located in Harriman and Bear Mountain State Parks. This project involved digging new water lines, and putting in new water filtration tanks in strategic locations. Because of the PIPC's desire to minimize the impact of this work on local amphibian populations, HEnRI was asked to provide detailed GIS maps of the project areas, and include locations of known amphibian hotspots. With information provided by HEnRI, the PIPC was able to continue with this project, while at the same time protecting local biotic communities.
In response, HEnRI used GIS to visualize the impact of several proposed cell towers within the viewsheds of Hook Mountain and High Tor State Parks. Due to the information provided by HEnRI, these cell towers were found to be inappropriately placed and were moved to more suitable locations.
click here for GIS Research Materials.