Back to index

Giving The Land A Voice
- mapping our home places


Edited by Sheila Harrington
Contributing authors - Doug Aberley, Michael Dunn, Malcolm Penn

Published by: Salt Spring Island Community Services Society
268 Fulford-Ganges Road,
Salt Spring Island, BC
V8K 2K6

- phone 604-537-9971
- fax 604-537-9974

If you are interested in mapping then this is the book for you. A step-by-step approach is taken to walk you though the steps for mapping everything from your backyard to a greater bio-region.

The following has been excepted from the introduction.

Wishing to help determine the quality of our home places and communities, many of us realize that we must develop human settlements and habitations in a sensitive and sustainable way. As landholders, landusers, and community members, we are in a small window of time when we have the opportunity to preserve habitat and slow the rapid intrusion of the human species over the planet.

How can we become more sensitive and less damaging to the dwindling habitats of our home places? How can we balance our increasing economic and social disparities?

Individuals and community groups are discovering the best way to take care or ourselves is to gain more knowledge and understanding of the local plants and animals, our neighbors, and to protect and restore our regions.

Meeting the challenge of saving and restoring cherished places and irreplaceable habitat can begin with the simple act of mapping. Maps can help us find our way. Making them leads us to discover more about our relationship to the natural world. If we take another step further and add cultural and historical features to maps, they can also help us become more aware of our connections with other people who live in the place and to the larger region.

The maps to which we are accustomed have been made for commercial or governmental reasons, not social reasons. They are the forest maps, development maps, tourist maps, marine charts - a parade of special interest maps. All have their use, but they inevitably fail to reveal the essence of where we live, and how the community fits into the larger region. Until we have maps that do this, we risk being geographically located, but socially and culturally lost.

This book assists individuals and community groups to map the habitats and species found on the land, in addition to the historical and current human interactions with the land. By recording and mapping, what has previously occurred and what is here now, we can adapt and develop plans for the future of both human and non-human sustainability.

Maps give us an opportunity to:
a) keep records, creating a ledger of a place in time
b) create a visual display of specific data and abstract ideas
c) pass on the map(s) of areas to others in the community to help sensitize all of us to local knowledge
d) develop a broader perspective of the relationships in an area
e) gain a bird's eye view - seeing routes to travel
f) understand the dynamics of a community, using maps to plan for sustainable change
g) plan development with knowledge and sensitivity to local habitat, culture and other community values
h) protect specific areas through covenants or other legal means.

The book explains how the bioregional mapping approach goes beyond conventional features, mapping cultural and historical features.

It is a hands on approach giving information on how to make a small area base map, and it describes the basic sources of information which are needed to map at any level. It suggests methods and features to map when doing a field survey and gives samples from the Southern Gulf Islands Bioregional Exhibition, "Mapping Cherished Island Places." If you start on page 1 and read through the book you will learn how to make a bioregional map atlas for larger regions if that is your desire. For large or small areas this book works.

There is a large appendix useful to the mapping process: including a glossary, field survey sheet and a detailed list of places, maps and books you may find useful.

This book gives you all the basic skills and understanding you need to start mapping. Everything from the backyard to your neighborhood, to the Islands as a whole. It is a clear guide/workbook, which will take you through all the steps to producing a clear and dynamic picture of the place. As the introduction says "Maps can help us find our way."
Back to index