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Geomatics - Johnstone's Fields 

Bruce Peninsula National Park Field Study

On June 1, 2015, the Geomatics class headed to Bruce Peninsula National Park for a day of field studies.  The students had a fantastic experience and gained some valuable skills working in the field.  See below for photos, maps, and more information about the project that we worked on.  A special thanks to Bruce Peninsula Parks Canada staff who provided a fantastic learning experience for students. Check out the itinerary and a sample student report.

Mr. Munro’s Notes from Board Room Presentation
Marine Operations Centre
Tobermory, Ontario – June 1st, 2015

Geomatics and Parks Canada

  • Two scales for geomatics in system – National and Site

  • National Geomatics team has about 30 members

  • Enterprise system is coming online now – idea is to have one Parks Canada database for all units to access

  • Currently using ArcGIS for Server to provide GIS services to 4500 people in organization

Special Uses of GIS

  • Incident & Event Management Tool – for law enforcement staff

    • Manages incidents using tablet computers

    • Fully functional when not connected to network (remote places)

    • Less time and paperwork allows for more time in the field

  • National Integrated Realty System

    • Responsible for management of most land for Canadians

    • Based on open data – Federal Geospatial Platform

  • Google products provide loads of data, but not always accurate. For example, the Park Boundary of Bruce Peninsula National Park is way off.  Not reliable for professional use.

Bruce Peninsula National Park Background

  • Park founded in 1987 – Federal/Provincial agreement with local municipalities

  • Parks Canada buys land from willing sellers at market value. Land is no longer expropriated.

  • Park has 20% of desired land of future park left to buy

  • Uses a property acquisition system to manage properties purchased and history of land ownership

  • Contains the largest continuous forest in Southern Ontario

Specific Site Examples/Data – Park Management & Planning

  • Land is assigned a resource value based on key pieces of information or areas that have key features. (e.g. Rattlesnake grounds, deer yards, black bear habitat)

  • Uses a weighted linear transformation to determine sensitive or unique lands

  • For example, Zone 1’s are areas that require higher levels of protection. Might also be based on a key feature – e.g. rare vegetation might have a 30m buffer around it to determine sensitivity

  • Ecological monitoring – forest encroachment on previously used agricultural lands

  • Park has a high density of Alvars (def’n: Alvars are naturally open habitats with either a thin covering of soil or no soil over a base of limestone or dolostone.– Nature Conservancy of Canada)

  • The landscape of BPNP is always changing. Not exactly sure what the land looked like 300 years ago.

  • Aerial photography is used to analyze the past. Have aerial photos dating back to 1938 in grids and they are taken approximately every 5 years.

Uses of GIS at BPNP

  • Creation of Visitor Experience Program – Activity Guides with maps

  • Creation of Map Products for gift shop that visitors can buy (souvenirs)

  • Asset Management – services, campgrounds, washrooms, trails, roads, condition monitoring (e.g. 40 m section of boardwalk that may need replaced)

  • Planning and construction

Johnstone’s Fields

  • Plots of land purchased/added to park in last few years

  • 150 previous years of agricultural use – front field was a hayfield and back field was for cattle

  • Goal is to replant fields with trees

  • Old settlement named “McVicar”

  • Have aerial photos of area dating back to 1938

  • We know what use to grow there based on old logging records which detail what kind of timber came off property. White Pine (used for ship building) and Hemlock (used for the leather industry) were the two dominant tree species

  • Logging method used the slash technique – bushes/branches left everywhere.

  • The majority of the peninsula burned in early 1900s which changed the landscape drastically and took a lot of the soil off the land

  • The Johnstone’s fields are unique in that the area still has a lot of deep soil today

  • 1855 – 142 hectares of Hemlock trees. Today – NONE

  • Hemlock & Beech forest from 1855-1938. Across the road is a wetland.  Balsam Fir trees grow in this swampy area.

  • Map created to show drainage patterns and moisture of area

  • Had to think about what species were native to land and what would survive in this area. Pines are good in hay grass but are non-native.  Usually when forests are replanted, mechanical planters are used.

  • For the Johnstone’s fields, nucleic clusters were hand planted.

  • Roundup was sprayed at the edge of the forest for 10 metres to allow trees to grow in.

  • Trembling aspen and poplar trees – grow 6 ft. in one year and gives more field succession. In year 3 or 4, forest will be more established.

  • When forest advances, edges are sprayed each year (10 metres).

  • In the 4th year, it is hoped that trees will start to provide a canopy. This shade will provide the needed environment for the vegetation that requires it.

  • Originally, planted trees were irrigated 2-3 times per week using Gator Spray Packs.

  • Data from this project will be used to see how future projects could work.

  • Aerial photography is monitoring advance of forest and growth of trees using a drone. New drones distort data much less than a few years ago.

  • Close to the Highway (6), 30 metres of hand planted white pine/conifers to act as a barrier. The highway is the biggest source of invasive species.

  • Hay in the fields is currently cut before it goes to seed.

  • Monitoring and field observations will be key in making future decisions about similar projects.

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