Adella Edwards- Large Scale Mapping: It is always something new

Adella is the Cartographer at James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland, Australia. She was trained at the Nova Scotia College of Geographic Sciences in Nova Scotia, Canada. The first 15 years of her career were varied, and included thematic mapping and working on the development team for the National Topographic Database of Canada. In 1996 she and her family migrated to Australia, where she settled into university life, loving the variety (and chaos!) of working in a learning environment. Usually Adella thinks about mapping while cycling, then writes about the cycling. This week, she’ll actually devote some pen time to mapping.

I am a Cartographer at a University, where the most common request always starts with “I need a map of”. Then there will be a long list of parameters, or perhaps just one or two, but what the person requesting the map is always surprised to find out, is that such a map doesn’t exist, or if it does exist, it is for a much smaller scale than they imagined.

Large scale mapping, a useful scale that you would use in the field like 1:50,000 (a map sheet being about 26×26 square kilometres, or 676 sq. kms) is still only available for the coastal and built-up areas of Australia. This scale is topographic mapping, with very little thematic mapping done.  

The issues are cost and effort. To get the information together to make a map takes a very skilled group a very long time, and so this sort of effort is only made rarely, for something really important.

Lucky for me there has been a really big effort going on for over 12 years in the Wet Tropics Management Authority. They are a Government Agency charged with the management of Australia’s World Heritage rainforests, which cover almost 900,000 ha of land, mostly National Parks, between Townsville and Cooktown, north Queensland. Why does that make me lucky? Because after all those years getting the information right, they asked for my help to make it into maps, real maps that are published on paper…

Keep reading Adella’s full post on her blog!

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