The Gist of GIS

If you have not heard of GIS, chances are a primary school student can explain what it is. Standing for Geographic Information Systems, it is enabled by the fact that most places in the world have a location reference. PlantingSeeds is using GIS to map out threatened pollinators and the plants they need. And many other Australian and global projects are, with the help of GIS, generating innovative solutions and strategies to biodiversity and sustainable challenges. GIS can help:

  • Predict next week’s weather with impressive accuracy
  • Map out future water sources
  • Identify invasive species and their potential patterns of movement
  • Pinpoint areas in need of reforestation

One of the earlier and perhaps most impactful uses of GIS was in 1854, when John Snow discovered the origin of a cholera outbreak in London by overlaying a map of diseased households with one of the local water sources. This discovery helped carve the path for GIS being further developed into the cutting-edge technology it is today.

PlantingSeeds’ ‘Threatened to Thriving’ Project

At PlantingSeeds, we’re using GIS to create an incredible resource called ‘Threatened to Thriving’. The software utilizes ArcGIS technology, which is a tool that helps users easily understand large amounts of data through visual communication. Hilary Albert, a key developer of ‘Threatened to Thriving’, explains that the app allows people to identify threatened species in their area and gives examples of plants that could be planted in their garden to attract those pollinators. ‘It does this by overlaying information on threatened pollinator species with helpful info on the plants you can grow to support them,’ she says. ‘This helps people to connect the dots and encourages the planting of species that supports regions’ biodiversity.’

With this resource, you can search your locality and view which endangered pollinators are native to this area and what plants you can plant for regeneration. For example, in the Bathurst area, the Bathurst Copper Butterfly is endangered, and it likes the Blackthorn plant. In Adelaide, the Grey-headed Flying Fox is threatened, and it is partial to Lavender Grevillea. In Maroondah, Victoria, the endangered Spot-tailed Quoll likes Spear Grass.

Click here to see our Threatened to Thriving map:

GIS helping New York’s environmental challenges

A recent activity at Manhattan Community College in New York involved students with challenges such as helping to protect local areas from the effects of global warming and where to build wind-powered buildings in the city. Students applied problem-solving to address these questions by gathering data and connecting them to suitable geographic areas. GIS teachers presented a topographical map of New York City as well as visuals to show how GIS can be used to link data to a map. This helped the students to work out the locations that could make best use of wind as the building’s main power source.

Author: Alyscia Batista