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A Total Forest Management Plan
I began work with computer mapping systems in 1969 before they were called GIS or Geographic Information Systems. The work is poorly labeled. There are computers needed to make maps but entire systems are needed - space, staff, computer hardware, computer software, statistical and other analytical packages, and plotters/printers ... and data of many types, and ideas. The emphasis of "geographic" seems misguided except that all data seem to have to have (or have access to) some geographic coordinates. The debate over the name seems wasteful. GIS is the code for that whole, large, expensive system. Herein I have made gross suggestions and have shown a few applications of suggested uses in
I have been critical of hardware and software sales groups for after the singular needful application, there is little further application of the system purchased. Expertise is easily lost to another project. The system, without an operator,languishes, wasteful and not seeming to fulfill promises.
There have been many applications of GIS and these are now regularly reported in the Journal of Forestry and elsewhere. Editors rejected early submissions since the papers seems to describe the system rather than wildlife topics.
The following are notes on potential uses for GIS work. By thinking of things (all things ) as systems, uses in one area can easily be duplicated for other areas. For example, a powerline corridor location procedure was turned into a trail-corridor location procedure.
Consider that everything is either a point, line, area, or volume and similarities in software applications become evident.
The Fishery and Watersheds
Y= a + bX
with a and b coefficients having been determined from research analyses using regression packages. By using the value of X in each map cell (for example the slope percent) then some other value (like Y) can be estimated for the map cell. The computer can readily create a new map with the values of Y in each map cell (pixel). Erosion potential maps can be created but they use several map layers and the equations have non linear components. These types of maps need to replace the past emphases on simple overlays (the hidden assumption being that each map layer value is of equal value. Weighting of layers (count this one layer five times!) can be done but that adds a human dimension that may not be computed properly and may not be representative of the appropriate decision makers).
Landres et al. (2001) seem overly cautious about recommending GIS for wilderness management work. Large area work requires it. Not to become highly involved with it is proximal to mismanagement. Using GIS is a step on the way to improving wilderness and other natural resource management. It has to be pulled from a concept of maps and map pages and pictures. The results need to be in electronic form for the Internet and for sending to the field by wireless technologies. More than a system for making maps it needs to be an information storage system, a retrieval system, an analysis system, a updating system, and a prognostic system ... and, oh yes, occasionally a map printing system. It has to be seen as a unit of an information and education system,a communication system, a multi-media system. Importantly, most importantly over the long run, it is an alternative way of thinking about management for the whole can be seen and mastered and the future foretold ... and improvements made over time. They are a way of dealing with history, conditions (especially baseline conditions) and services, likely transitions, uses, threats (like exotic plants and insects or new mammal abundance like that of the eastern coyote), and the relations among these. They provide a work space for notes, observations, ideas, and plans. They prevent the loss of information as staff retire or move. They provide economies in training for the new staff person. Where questions in the past were never asked because the answer would never be available, now new questions can be aired such as:
Perhaps real scientists can never prove a negative, but the presence of a GIS and its potential use has stopped or greatly delayed proposals that would impact natural resource areas since the impact could be very well analyzed and the case clearly made not to approve the proposed development. In wilderness work, it can be used to oppose (or support) de-classification or land trades.
See: Robert Meese's (rjmeese@UCDAVIS.EDU) international species databases of The Information Center for the Environment (ICE), in cooperation with the United States Man and the Biosphere program (U.S. MAB), the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) program of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the National Biological Information Infrastructure, the U.S. National Park Service, and the Biological Resources Discipline of the U.S.G.S., has produced databases containing documented, taxonomically standardized species inventories of plants and animals reported from the world's protected areas. These databases (http://ice.ucdavis.edu/projects/biodiversity) contain documented, standardized species inventories of over 1,200 protected areas in ca. 130 countries and are updated monthly.
Energy companies, utilities, and major developers are usually looking for ways to prevent environmental damage and the related social and other costs. GIS can be used to create detailed environmental baselines and use them to prevent damage and to avert claims of such damage by making before and after comparisons. In 4/27/2005 a request was mad to a Wildlife Society listserve seeking advice about mapping software, not a full-blown GIS system but something a bit more affordable that shows names/locations of streams and lakes. The person owned Microsoft MapPoint and Streets and Trips. Locations of streams and lakes are very limited. Costco Today was then selling National Geographic topographic >software (http://maps.nationalgeographic.com/topo/). Another friend >recommended DeLorme products (http://www.delorme.com/). Correspondent suggestions were summarized as:
Mike Banach made the following recommendations:
* We use Terrain Navigator and find it very good, cheap, and easy to use.
* Even cheaper (free is good!) is the USGS's Geographic Names Information System. This may be all you need. The USGS geographic name link above is impressive. Once you find a site, you can click a conveniently provided TopoZone link. This is very handy.
John Crane recommended...TopoZone is a great on-line mapping tool that will give you the kind of information you say you're looking for. It's free, but you can subscribe to the Pro version for $49.95 a year if you need access to more stuff (DOQQs, detailed street maps, etc.).
Falk Huettmann recommends the GIS package ArcView.
My comments on some other packages.
* Microsoft "Streets and Trips" is not topographic map software, but (for an inexpensive package) does an outstanding job of mapping streets, directions, and locations throughout North America. Very fast and user friendly.
* Microsoft MapPoint is "Streets and Trips" on steroids. It integrates with Excel, so that a list of addresses (or GPS coordinates) in Excel are readily plotted on a map. I'm very impressed with this tool, though it appears to me intended for marketing products.
* National Geographic "Back Roads Explorer". This $29.99 product (that was the CostCo price anyway) has topo maps for all 50 states. These maps come on 17 CDs. You can get good copies of maps, but the user interface is slow and clunky. It claims to have 7.5' maps, but they are blurry. My hunch is that they want you to buy the 7.5' maps for each individual state (another $30 for each state).
New TIGER/Line Files now available with StreetCD 2004
With StreetCD 2004 you can easily access and export the new 2004 TIGER/Line Files street and boundary data for use in ArcView and MapInfo. With GeoLytics StreetCD 2004 you can effortlessly export boundaries, or you can map the geographies using with the product's built-in mapping software
GeoLytics SteetCD 2004 is fast and easy to use. All you have to do is pick the geographic layer, pick the geography, run and/or export your selection, and view the data, that's it! StreetCD has incredible functionality - it views and outputs data and maps into documents or databases.
StreetCD 2004 includes: Comprehensive coverage of the US and outlying areas; interstates, highways, major roads; local streets; census boundaries, school districts, voting districts; railroads, Amtrak stations, rail transfer facilities, airports; hydrology, rivers, waterways, lakes; landmarks, schools, hospitals, parks, religious institutions, shopping centers, office parks, cemeteries, nursing homes, jails, and more
StreetCD 2004 costs only $495 for the entire country. If you only want a single state, it costs just $249. For more information about StreetCD or to take a guided tour of this product, please visit the product web page.
If you want to order or have questions about any of these products,
Landres, P, D.R. Spildie, and L.P. Queen. 2001. GIS applications to wilderness management: potential uses and limitations. USDA For. Serv, Rocky Mt. Research Station, Gen Tech Rpt RMRS-GTR-80, Ft Collins, CO 9p.
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Last revision July 8, 2004.