Since the West Parry Sound Geography Network’s (WPSGN) formation in 2005, the GBB has worked alongside this geomatics organization developing a strong sense of place and community through mapping and geographic information systems (GIS). GIS refers to the creation, management, study and mapping of all types of data. You can access the Geography Network’s page online to check out their interactive mapping tool and open data portal!

In 2021, the next stage in this partnership began by bringing on a dedicated intern to develop the geomatics department at the Biosphere. With this development, the GBB is working towards establishing themselves in the geospatial community.

One major result of this partnership was changing how field staff collect data. Moving away from paper forms in favour of a digital format allowed for data collected in the field to immediately feed into a GIS database. This database is available for GBB staff to use for report writing and support decision making.

With the 2022 field season well underway, the field teams are relying on a robust data collection system. This ensures we help as many species at risk as possible for the Maamwi Anjiakiziwin project and have accurate measurements for the State of the Bay project.

“Surveys are so simple to use” says returning staff Heather Van Den Diepstraten “and for reporting at the end of the field season, everything is there ready for us to analyze and visualize”.

By contributing to data collection and storage for programs across the GBB, this partnership helps the Biosphere meet the goal set out by the UNESCO designation. The use of spatially organized methods to store and collect environmental data ensures the conservation of the lands, ecosystems and species that call the Georgian Bay region home. GIS has also contributed map figures to various projects across the GBB including the Stewardship Guide, municipal/cottage association reports, and federal reporting for Species at Risk projects. All activities at the Biosphere have a use for spatial data, and the use of GIS helps us to better explore these various interests.

Species at Risk Field Technicians using the field survey platform Survey123 to log a snapping turtle nest (collected under federal/provincial permits) to be incubated and released. Credit: E. Holdsworth