Anouncing an Open Forestry Template

Jul 27, 2014 | Forestry, GIS, postgis, QGIS

My longest running client has been a forestry company. Now – if you were to hand me an aerial photograph and I had it in stereo and go “Trees – start” – I would at least get the boundaries of the different types outlined. If you stuck me on the ground I essentially go “That’s pine and that’s not”.

The forestry client has been an interesting project. As of late (over the last month) I’ve been slowly migrating them into postgis and qgis. They have arcview and we’re going to use that for map production (unless I keep getting better with cartography in QGIS and then that is questionable). Moving to postgis has made the data a bit more cryptic to them but infinitely easier to manage for me.  So much so that this mornings call of “how many acres are currently on tract 31” and one small script later I had a frequency table describing types of trees and acres (which you can’t do at the arcview level of licensing (and I know it’s not called arcview)).

This database has grown from 2 shapefiles to over 22 shapefiles before the merge into postgis. Like I said it’s a bit more cryptic but easier to manage and as I keep changing it and getting it “stable” and “documented” life will be better. The whole idea of this database has evolved also out of a couple of conversations with other forestry minded individuals:

  • I’ve been using QGIS because it’s free – just not supported.
  • I’m still using arcview 3.x because I know how to use it.
  • I’m not buying any more software to manage my GIS (in reference to needed arceditor)

So I’ve decided to do something weird and hopefully wonderful. If you have a commercial GIS setup – you can download a pre-built database for your industry. It’s a pretty great way to do things actually. What if you don’t have that? You start piece mealing things together that makes sense for you.

I don’t have access to industry leaders or at least the people that show up at a conference. I do have a git hub account, an idea, and you. Lets build an Open Forestry Template (pre-built database). A common operating base for the rest of us. Now I’m going to take a narrow approach at first and work my way up. First thing that will be supported will be postgres/postgis/qgis.  The next thing will be qgis/spatialite. Next will be whatever I decide to do for ESRI’s Desktop product. Since this is free and open I can’t devote a millions hours – but I think this can work. If some of you want to help – help. Want to help fund development? I’m not opposed to that. Want me to help your forestry company out and implement it? Yippee. Know what you are doing and don’t need help? Download away.

This actually blends pretty well with the Spatial Connect. Process over Software. This will be hopefully the making of a very good supported database for forestry people to use regardless of software.

So right now I’m recording notes in markdown files Here: https://github.com/rjhale1971/openforestrytemplate , I have thoughts for assets (which would be gates, bridges, and culverts) to stands to property boundaries. It’s not a lot – but it will start filling out as the weeks progress.

Once I feel like I have enough info I’ll start making databases and setting things up for download. DON’T WORRY – Once this gets to a stable version I’ll make it easier for everyone to get to – Github can be too cryptic for us all to use and deal with – some of you guys are foresters and not full time GIS people. I completely understand. If you want to email me your ideas go for it. If you want to leave a comment on the blog with something that needs to go in feel free.

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