A New Map of the World’s Ecosystems

GIS (Geographic Information Systems) is being employed to map decades of ecological data – a potential tool for thoughtful landscape architects to reflect a design’s place. This can negate human perceptions plaguing outdated work; many classifications and maps apparently lack field research, too.

PotentialNaturalVegMap-Kuchler-CROP
like Kuchler’s map: good graphics, but insight and error meet

Read below, about a website using GIS. (thanks for the head’s up, CC)

Of course, this needs work – short-term and incomplete climate records should be deleted, more aspects of climate factored, and classification systems and reasoning noted. I hope site navigability is added, plus interactivity (user’s ability to shift climate and other parameters, control base information), to customize one’s own map as a PDF or image.

The below website is a good companion to online BONAP and PRISM maps, the latter used for the revised USDA cold hardiness zones for gardens.
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To follow-up, I’ll post a list of some places’ bioclimates, to see what you think. I may even post on those places, comparing what popular systems say vs. a photo of that place, so you can envision potential gardens using poor information.

THE DIRT

map1 Ecological Tapestry of the World / ESRI and USGS

A new, free, web-based tool from the US Geological Survey (USGS) and ESRI allows us to gain a better understanding of the ecological character of any place in the world. As the team explains, the web site can be used by everyone — from local government officials and planners to landscape architects and conservationists — to visualize the world’s complex ecological patterns. This also means in the future the tool can be used to map the impacts of climate change and development on ecosystems over time.

According to Randy Vaughan, ESRI, an enormous amount of science (and data) went into creating the tool. “The globe was divided in cells at a base resolution of 250 meters.” Each cell was then assigned input layers of data that “drive ecological processes.”

When users search for any place in the world, they see a…

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