Date of Award

12-2013

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Forest Resources

Advisor

Post, Christopher J

Committee Member

English , William R

Committee Member

Mikhailova , Elena A

Abstract

The importance of protecting water quality and aquatic resources are increasing because of harmful human impacts within and around waterways. Establishing or restoring functional riparian areas protect water quality and are a good mechanism to conserve aquatic systems, plants, and wildlife. Laser-based remote sensing technology offers a high resolution approach to both characterize and document changes in riparian buffer zones (RBZs). The objectives of this study were to build a model to calculate riparian buffer width on both sides of a stream using a LiDAR-derived slope variable, to classify riparian buffers and determine their quality, and to evaluate the appropriateness of using LiDAR in riparian buffer assessment. For this purpose, RBZs were delineated for Hunnicutt and King Creek, which are located in Oconee and Pickens counties, in South Carolina. Results show that LiDAR was effective in delineating required riparian buffer widths based on the topography slope of upstream areas, and to calculate the ratio of tree cover in those riparian buffer zones to qualify them. Furthermore, the riparian buffer assessment model that was created in this research has potential for use in different sites and different studies.

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