Friday, November 28, 2008

Nature Mapping

Cross-posted from my other blog, as it's not getting many comments over there and it would be nice to be able to give my friend some extra feedback. Especially 'cos it's her birthday on Sunday!


Ever wondered what's lurking in your garden?

A friend of mine has a budding1 professional interest. She's a volunteer in Vancouver's Stanley Park, and as part of her role has come across an activity known as nature mapping.

As far as I understand it, the ultimate goal of nature mapping - also called barefoot mapping - is to catalogue the hidden biodiversity tucked away in parks and gardens. My friend has partnered with an amateur artist, and they are potentially interested in mapping private residences and producing personalised works of art, complete with information about the property's ownership, location, physical description, ecological and cultural values, stewardship and conservation goals, etc.

Everyone needs to practice their trade, and what better way than in your friends' gardens? So, one sunny summer day, she arrived at my house with notebook, camera and measuring tape in hand, and we proceeded to measure dimensions and sketch outlines and move inch by inch through the garden, listing and photographing every living thing we found. The results are below: Link if you'd like to zoom in

Pretty cool, eh?!

I had a really fun few hours poking through hedges and into the weedier parts of our property. It took me back to the days of picking up worms and chasing my sister around our garden with them, all those weeks years ago. And the original hand drawn map - all 2 ft x 4 ft of it - will find a good home on my office wall.

Our next step is to map my mother-in-law's property on the Sunshine Coast. It's about half an acre and incorporates an intricately planned patchwork of flowers and herbs, bordered by chunks of the original forest. We regularly see deer passing through, an owl with a four-foot wing span used to stop by to terrorise the cat, the occasional bear has been sighted, and my father-in-law once saw a cougar strolling past the kitchen window. I can't wait to see that map!

1. Pun intended


  1. I love this! I actually think it would be a really cool gift to give someone for a housewarming or something. I am not saying it is not valuable in terms of skills/science, but just that your average homeowner would think it was really neat even if they didn't understand what went into it. I am pretty sure this wasn't what you intended in terms of comments, though :).

  2. I think it's pretty neat, as one who loves maps of all kinds. Perhaps your friend could partner with a nursery in offering this kind of service. Surely there would be some takers.

  3. Mermaid, as I told you earlier this is exactly the kind of comment that I was hoping for! Around here I bet there are loads of households that would be interested in the stewardship aspects of the process too.

    Silver Fox, I love maps too... I was a little confused by your nursery suggestion at first, because my first thought was of very young children, but then I realised you must mean a plant nursery - d'oh! That's a really good idea!

  4. Hey, you added my blog!! Thanks! :)

  5. I want a beer tree!

    I really think that is quite neat. I especially like your cat's name. :-)

  6. That is really cool. I had the same thoughts as Mermaid!

  7. SF, you're welcome!

    UR, yeah the beer tree was a little embarrassing... people walking by our house tend to throw garbage over the fence for some reason, and we're always picking up food wrappings and what have you. This time, someone threw over a cardboard box from a 6-pack of beer bottles, and Mr E Man left it there as a joke "to see if it turns into a beer tree". Unfortunately we forgot to pick it up before the nature mapping day...

    The full reason for the cats' names are here.

    Thanks Amanda!


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