Knowledge Base: Enhancing information on land use through networks and technology
The Canadian Forest Service (CFS) is tasked with fulfilling Canada's mandate under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change to measure the change of land status from forestry to other uses.
To build an inventory of land status, the CFS was using satellite imagery and a Geographic Information System (GIS) to then delineate the areas of interest. The challenge was that it was sometimes difficult to determine why the land had been cleared. For example, was it for timber, harvest or agriculture? The information required to confirm land use was located in different databases that within organizational boundaries.
A B.C. government manager who works with the Climate Action Team in the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands has built positive working relationships across organizational and jurisdictional boundaries. Thus, when the CFS needed to improve their inventory of land use, they turned to the Climate Action Team manager. This manager was also able to use standard software and technology to enhance the knowledge base of the CFS.
The CFS sent Geographic Information System (GIS) files in a Google Earth format to the team as e-mail attachments to outline their areas of interest. The manager set up a collaboration using Live Meeting to include CFS and ministry staff, and started up Google Earth on his computer. With Live Meeting, the others could see the GIS e-mail attachments on his screen. As he clicked on each outlined area, all participants could see what CFS was asking for. As they spoke, the manager opened map layers from sources including the GeoBC public website, and layered information such as Agricultural Land Reserve, lot lines and different types of ownership over the Google Earth imagery. Some questions were answered immediately.
Later, building on what he had learned, the same manager heard that a provincial agrologist in Kelowna needed key information within 20 minutes. The manager used the “link” button on the phone to call out to a CFS specialist who might help. The “invite by e-mail” function on Live Meeting brought the agrologist into a brainstorming session and the three of them were able to assemble accurate information within the 20-minute timeframe – something that would not have been possible without the networks that bridged the organizations and the knowledge-sharing technology in place.