UBC Undergraduate Research

Leveraging Geographic Information Systems in British Columbia's Forest Industry Stevenson, Loreen


This essay is written with the intent of being easily understood by forest managers and decision makers who may not necessarily possess knowledge of GIS. Forest managers have the ability to maximize the value they receive from their GIS investment by instituting a few simple yet effective measures. First, companies must develop a GIS vision and long-term plan which is consistent with the company’s objectives. Critical components of the plan must include: central management of the enterprise GIS program; hiring qualified individuals; building capacity through increasing GIS knowledge; organizing GIS data in a company-wide data repository; and making the data more available to elementary GIS users. A successful GIS program is characterized by central management and it must be fully implemented across the entire company to be most effective. Managers must employ highly skilled individuals who possess both GIS education or training and forestry education or experience as well as ensure that ongoing GIS training is provided to all levels of GIS users. Roles and responsibilities within GIS positions should be clearly identified and employees should be responsible for performing duties commensurate with their individual skill level. Individuals should not be expected to perform tasks outside of their level of expertise. GIS data must be organized by feature type in a multi-user data repository and managed from a central location. Several pragmatic methods are suggested to make GIS data more available and usable to elementary GIS users. These methods include layer files, map templates and documentation. Companies must be able to use all of their data to its full potential to realize the best return on their GIS investment. By inputting a small amount of additional resources towards efficiently using their GIS personnel and programs, forest managers have the potential to yield higher levels of return throughout the company’s business.

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