False colour satellite image of Nanaimo, BC

2008 Submission

Lisa Zetterberg
Advanced Diploma in GIS Applications


This map product is the result of a 9 week practicum project for the ADGIS program that began in January 2008.  The purpose of the project was to create a regional map template that integrated Species at Risk (SAR) information with Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory (SEI) mapping for the South Okanagan Valley.  The SEI projects are seen as an effective and popular tool in helping to inform and guide the public and local government in land management practices.  It is believed that with the integration of SAR information into the SEI map products, we can help users identify species associated with sensitive ecosystems.  This would help people to better understand the important connection between species and the habitats or ecosystems they depend on for their survival.  The SAR information adds to and enhances the SEI mapping, and helps users visualize and understand sensitive ecosystems as a whole. 

This map product was created using ArcMap 9.2.  All the design elements where either created using the layout tools provided within ArcMap or imported into ArcMap (Jpeg images and .emf’s used for some sections of text).  The map was then exported into PDF formats in an ANSI E (110cm x 85cm) size.  This is the standard SEI mapping size.

The data used to produce the map product was provided by the provincial and federal governments.  This data can be found on the Ministry of Environments Eco-Cat: Ecological Reports Catalogue site (http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/ecocat/) Search for Sensitive Ecosystem Inventories.  On this site you can find all of the SEI mapping projects, products, and the data used to generate them. 

An actual SEI map product had not been created for the South Okanagan.  The data existed, however it was never mapped.  The data used to generate this map product is from TEM (Terrestrial Ecosystem Mapping).  For the purpose of this project I used only the SEI mapping data (which was derived from the TEM).  I generated a dot density thematic layer displaying the 2nd and 3rd ecosystem deciles, which was overlaid on top of a solid primary ecosystem deciles layer. 

The SAR information incorporated into the map product was researched via a number of websites.  These include “Species at Risk & Local Government: A Primer for BC” (http://www.speciesatrisk.bc.ca), BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer website http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/atrisk/toolintro.html), the Species at Risk Act (http://www.sararegistry.gc.ca).  BC Electronic Atlases for both flora and fauna (http://www.eflora.bc.ca or http://www.efauna.bc.ca), and the Parks Canada Photo Gallery (http://www.pc.gc.ca/apps/dmm/index_e.asp).  The information provided via these websites was cross-referenced with each other, and many photographers were approached because of their photos found to be available on these sites.   The species and photos highlighted depended on a number of factors.  Some of these factors included the ability to find photos, the resolution, and the ability to obtain permission to use the photos.  I then generated a database to include all the information I wanted to include on SAR.  This database was then reviewed by ecologists to ensure that the linkages to ecosystems were correct and that the descriptions were accurate. 

The TRIM data was provided by the provincial government.  This data was used as a base map so as to allow the map reader to reference themselves and identify landmarks within the region.  It was questioned whether or not to use color orthophotos. However, it was decided that it would be difficult to generate a clear and concise map product using this data, as the color orthophoto would detract from the data being presented.  By using it as a base map, it would alter the ecosystems color palette and make it difficult to decipher between them.  Also, if this project was to expand it was found that TRIM data would be more transferable, as gaps in ortho coverage may become an issue in certain areas of the province.  Therefore, it was deemed that the TRIM data provided a simple and effective base map, where a map reader would be able to easily situate themselves and engage with the data being presented.  

A number of design considerations had to be made.  It was found that there was a vast amount of information needing to be included and little space available.  It is the vast space limitations that began the great debate on what we needed to include and what we wanted to include.

A certain amount of text was required in order to address questions about the methodology, acknowledgements, sensitive ecosystems, and results of the SEI.  All this information needed to be included, as well as all the information and pictures of the SAR.  It was difficult to address all the SEI mapping element requirements and include supplemental SAR information.  Compromises needed to be made regarding how much information we needed to include and what we would like to include.  We wanted to provide an effective map displaying all the information we wanted without it looking too overpowering.  It was through careful analysis of previous SEI mapping projects that I was able to make some of the major design decisions.  It was apparent that every single SEI map project had a different color scheme, different information portrayed, different legends, and so on.  In order to address some of this information, I had to make some cut throat decisions on how much SEI information I needed to include.  In order to address this, I decided to include the primary, secondary and tertiary ecosystem deciles, polygon labels which included the percentage of and which ecosystems were found within each polygon, and information to describe this information.  Not only did I not want to detract from the SAR information we are trying to incorporate into the map product, but it was apparent that sensitive ecosystems make up a large portion of the study area, and because of this I wanted to keep the actual data being mapped as simple as possible.

We wanted to highlight and include as much information about SAR as possible within the ecosystems legend.  We decided on two species per ecosystem (wherever possible the species were chosen according to their most suitable habitat choice).  This then limited the space available to describe the species.  I decided on a single line of text to describe each species within the ecosystems legend.  A compromise needed to be made if we wanted to include both a photo and description.  By limiting the SAR text to a single sentence it added extra white space within an already cluttered legend.  To further address some of these limitations I included a section that would highlight two SAR with greater detail.  This allowed me to include more information about their breeding and habitats.  Also, within the text found at the bottom of the map you can find more information on which species are found within each ecosystem, as many species live within a number of different ecosystems, not just one.

Effort was also made to limit the overwhelming amount of text used to label each polygon.  However, this information needed to be incorporated and there was little that could be done.  In previous SEI mapping projects a section on the side of the map was designated to provide a more comprehensive list of polygon labels.  However, it was found that in order to include SAR information in the form of pictures and text that the polygon labeling needed to be removed from the layout and incorporated directly within the actual mapping.