Mapping my Experience Part: I

June 27, 2019 10:32 am Published by Leave your thoughts

One part of the Layout and planning component of the forestry industry (and it’s prevalent at a lot of the woodlands management steps) is mapping! Now, because I mentioned this in my first blog you knew this was coming. Maps of the blocks we work in are important for being able to navigate on the ground. We use GPSes and compasses/paper maps to navigate while we are doing layout, to help us keep from getting lost and to follow planning the block efficiently. The next step of this process is digitizing the data that we collect in the field. Whether its where the boundary is, where we put the roads, or the location of wetlands and reserve zones within our block, all those real-world features get mapped and recorded every day. These real-world features are then included in the final map that we send to the timber cruisers so they can plan where their cruise grid will be and is important to meet the environmental and layout standards set by the government. Ensuring that this final map product is an accurate representation possible of what the block composition/plan is one of the most important things about layout (would include a picture of a pre work map but I’ll keep myself from sharing possibly confidential documents).

As my primary focus of my university education has been focused on Geomatics, I have been exposed to a variety of mapping tools and do truly enjoy making maps and toying with geospatial data in my off time. So naturally as I am experiencing so many new places in the Mackenzie natural resource district, I feel inclined to map them.

The one mapping program I have grown fond of OpenStreetMap is essentially the map version of Wikipedia, so long as you have an account, anyone can edit the large database of spatial data around the world. This includes everything from the building you’re likely sitting in to places in Africa that are completely unmapped on google maps but have been filled in by OpenStreetMap volunteers like myself! So, since I have the privileged to visit remote locations around Williston Lake, I can digitize the data therein because I have ground truthed them myself by going there!

Aerial photo of Osilinka Camp

Picture 1. Aerial photo of Osilinka Camp prior to digitizing (Maxar Premium imagery used)

If you remember from my first blog entry, I went to Osilinka Camp. I noticed after a quick browse of OpenStreetMap that there was no data at all around the camp. So, as a somewhat experienced contributor to OpenStreetMap, I took it upon myself to digitize the location of the buildings in camp! The imagery available of the camp did show the buildings that I saw there on my first shift. Digitizing them was a very short process, as the editing program I use (Java OpenStreetMap Editor) has a building tool that makes digitizing long rectangular buildings like the ones at Osilinka Camp very easy.

The process of digitizing the buildings at Osilinka using the JOSM building tool

Picture 2. The process of digitizing the buildings at Osilinka using the JOSM building tool

Getting firsthand experience with such remote locations is a real privilege that I will reiterate throughout these blog posts I’m sure, but I was super happy to be able to contribute data to OpenStreetMap that may one day prove useful. I encourage everyone reading this to check out OpenStreetMap and maybe contribute somewhere near you!

I will provide you with an update in my next blog entry showing the changed after they have been accepted and added to OpenStreetMap.

screenshot of aerial view of town

Picture 3. All Buildings at Osilinka Digitized!

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