Three Field Naturalists from UVM were making a public presentation in a local school cafeteria about their research on the wildlife and other natural features in the new Richmond town forest. As they neared the end, they showed a map they’d made that summed up their work, and it immediately grabbed me. The map used a new technique I hadn’t seen, and as someone who makes and uses a lot of maps, I knew it was something special. It combined a series of different maps into one they called a habitat heat sensitivity map. I wasn’t able to speak with the FNs after the meeting, but I now had this new mapping technique on my radar, and knew I had to keep an eye out for more examples.
How lucky I was to see the Field Naturalists’ work again a few weeks later at the Forest Ecosytem Monitoring Cooperative Conference in December. The FNs, Grace Glynn, Eric Hagen, and Meredith Naughton, had made a poster of their research results for the afternoon poster session, and I had ample time to look it over. They described their task as “to provide the tools needed to build trails with wildlife in mind” in the new Richmond town forest (Andrews Community Forest). They made six maps of features such as stream buffers, cliffy areas, wetland features, and state significant natural communities. Then, they combined them all into one map using sensitivity scores and heat index colors to show the amount of overall habitat sensitivity (with red being the most sensitive and blue the least). Now, when planning the new trail system, this one map can guide the trail builders toward areas of low sensitivity for a suite of natural features and away from areas of high sensitivity. Combining lots of data into an easy to read and interpret single image is not only elegant, it’s also practical, too. What a great tool!
To see the whole poster called “Recreation and Wildlife: Finding a Balance in the Andrews Community Forest in Richmond, VT,” use this link.