SI2015-B-5: “Mapping the Landscape of Sable Island” – David Colville, Brittany Reeves, Bill Livingstone, Heather Stewart

In September 2014 the Applied Geomatics Research Group (AGRG) completed a third aerial mapping campaign of Sable Island.  The AGRG first mapped the island in early October 2002 with an aerial photography survey.  Then in August 2009 AGRG conducted an aerial photography and Light Detection And Ranging (LiDAR) survey.  Five years later, in September 2014, these same technologies were deployed again.

Each of these surveys led to a photo-mosaic of the island and a mapping of the land cover.  The 2009 and 2014 surveys also produced Digital Surface Models (DSMs) derived from the LiDAR data.  Ground-truthing efforts associated with each survey provided data to assist with the interpretation of the aerial imagery.  In 2014 the fieldwork efforts resulted in more than 100 ground-truth plots being sampled across the entire island.

This mapping of Sable Island’s landscape has resulted in the quantification of the various land cover classes (i.e., vegetative communities, ponds, sand) and comparisons of how and where these have changed over the years.  The LiDAR-derived data has resulted in a mapping of the topography of the island and an excellent opportunity to quantify the landscape changes that have occurred on the island over the last five years.

AGRG is working with Parks Canada to better understand how the topography (i.e., shape, size, and heights of dunes) and land cover (i.e., vegetation communities) are changing.  This understanding will help Parks Canada fulfill their ecological monitoring requirements and guide them as they prepare a management plan for one of Canada’s newest national parks.