This piece was originally published in Giving the Land a Voice: Mapping Our Home Places, edited by Sheila Harrington, LTA Land Trust Alliance of British Columbia, copyright 1999.


Mapping Terms

Base Map: contains geographical reference information on which attribute data may be plotted. An example of this is a map that shows only the outline of Canada’s borders. This map provides visual reference points onto which other features such as major cities, or geoclimatic regions can be accurately plotted, relative to their geographical position and the location of other features.

Cadastral Map: shows property’ boundaries. Cadastral is derived from the word “cadastre” which was the official register or list of property owners and their landholdings in ancient Rome. These maps were designed for estimating land taxes and are still used for that purpose today. This probably explains their longevity’ in the mapping world.

Planimetric Map: showing a territory without any reference to contours. Usually, the most dominant features of a planimetric map are rivers, coastlines, lakes, spot elevations and some human-made features such as towns and roads.

Thematic Map: depicts specific themes or sets of information. Examples include native territories, wildlife ranges, or any other of a countless number of possible representations of point, line, volume, area or other data.

Topographic Map: showing the three-dimensional shape of the land by using imaginary contour lines drawn to connect all points at a similar elevation above or below sea level. Each contour line represents a different elevation. If contour lines are close together, it signals a steep landscape. Contour lines spaced farther apart define a flatter terrain.

Other Maps include aerial or satellite photos of land areas, and orthophoto maps which show elevation contours imposed over an air photo base.

Bioregional and Biological Terms

Bioregion “refers both to a geographical terrain and a terrain of consciousness – to a place and the ideas that have developed about how to live in that place.” (Berg & Dasmann, 1977: 399).

Indicator Species: suggests that if this species is present, its home ecosystem is healthy

Living-in-place “means following the necessities and pleasures of life as they are uniquely presented by a particular site, and evolving ways to ensure long-term occupancy of that site. A society which practices living-in-place keeps a balance with its region of support through links between human lives, other living things and the processes of the planet – seasons, weather, water cycles – as revealed by the place itself.” Ibid.

Reinhabitation “means undertaking activities and social behavior that will enrich the life of that place, restore its life-supporting systems, and establish an ecologically and socially sustainable pattern of existence within it.” Ibid.

Sample Covenant

Agreement made this ____ day of ____ A.D.

BETWEEN: Landowner

and: HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN, IN RIGHT of the Province of British Columbia, as represented by the Minister of Environment, Fish and Wildlife Branch (Thereinafter called the Grantee)

{Description of creek area}


That they will not build, construct or place, nor have built, constructed or placed, any habitable buildings within those parts of the lands shown outlined on the print of the said reference plan attached hereto.


That they will not disturb, remove or interfere with, nor have disturbed, removed or interfered with, the natural soil or vegetation within those parts of the Lands shown outlined on the print of the said Reference Plan attached hereto, without the express written permission of the Regional Director, Fish and Wildlife Branch.

Field sheet prepared by Michael Dunn


We are providing a brief overview of the book and map resources available to assist you in the mapping process. An abbreviated list of useful books is broken down into two categories: Biophysical & Historical Profiles and Legal, Survey and Inventory skills. Following these Book Resources are Map Resources – listing maps and atlases, places and departments mentioned in the text of this manual.

British Columbia Historical and Biophysical Profiles

Banfield, A. W. F. 1974. The Mammals of Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Barman, Jean. 1991. The West Beyond The West: A History of British Columbia. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Begg, Alexander. 1894. History of British Columbia Toronto: William Briggs.

Borror, Donald and Richard White. 1970. Insects: Peterson Field Guides. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. Beautiful illustrations to get you started in the endlessly interesting world of insect taxonomy.

British Columbia. 1989. British Columbia Mineral Statistics: Annual Summary Tables, Historical Mineral Production to 1987. Victoria: Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum.

British Columbia. 1988. Electoral History’ of British Columbia 1871-1986. Victoria: Elections British Columbia.

Brough, Sherman G. 1990. Wild Trees of British Columbia. Vancouver: Pacific Educational Press.

Campbell, R. W. et al. 1990. The Birds of British Columbia. 2 Volumes. Victoria: Royal British Columbia Museum/ Canadian Wildlife Service. This is an excellent, full-colour reference.

Canada. Environment Canada. 1982. Canadian Climate Normals. 7 Volumes. Ottawa: Queen’s Printer.

Canada. Environment Canada. 1994. Biodiversity in British Columbia: Our Changing Environment. Ottawa: Supply and Services Canada.

Canada. Environment Canada. Inland Waters Directorate. Water Survey of Canada. 1986. Historical Streamflow Summary: British Columbia. Ottawa: Ministry of Supply and Services.

Cannings, R.A. and A. P. Harcombe. ed. 1990. The Vertebrates of B.C.: Scientific and English Names. RBCM Heritage Record No. 20. This will end all arguments about what actual species are common names referred to in B.C.

Duff, Wilson. 1964. The Indian History of British Columbia: The Impact of the White Man. Victoria: Province of B.C. Department of Recreation and Conservation.

Elliott, Dave Sr. (ed. Janet Poth) 1990. Saltwater People. A Resource Book for the Saanich Native Studies Program, available through Saanich Native Heritage Society,

Green, R.N. and K. Klinka. 1994. A Field Guide to Site Identification and Interpretation for the Vancouver Forest Region. Victoria: Province of British Columbia. Ministry of Forests. 285 pp.

Hart, J. L. 1973. Pacific Fishes of Canada. Ottawa: Fisheries Research Board of Canada.

Holland, Stuart S. 1976. Landforms of British Columbia: A Physiographic Outline. British Columbia Dept, of Mines and Petroleum Resources. Bulletin 48. Victoria: Queen’s Printer.

Howes, D.E. and E. Kenk. eds. 1988. Terrain Classification System for British Columbia (Revised Edition). MOE Manual 10. Province of British Columbia, Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Crown Lands. Victoria. 90 pp.

Hoyt, Erich. 1992. Whales of Canada: An Equinox Wildlife Handbook. Ontario: Camden House. The best quick and easy guide to whales, dolphins and porpoise.

Kavanagh, James. 1993. Nature B.C.: An Illustrated Guide to Common Plants and Animals. Vancouver: Lone Pine.

Kozloff, Eugene. 6th ed., 1991. Plants and Animals of the Pacific Northwest. Seattle: University of Washington Press. An old classic for helping out with common animals and plants that you run into in this region, right down to snails, newts and introduced sowbugs.

Lamb, Andy, Phil Edgell. 1986. Coastal Fishes of the Pacific Northwest. Madeira Park B.C.: Harbour.

Lyons, C.P. 1974. Trees, Shrubs and Flowers to Know in British Columbia. Toronto: J.M. Demt and Sons, (various reprints, awaiting a recent edition by Lone Pine). This book is my all time favourite. It is very good for the beginner because flowers are arranged by colour, which is handy if you are not used to identifying flowers by families.

McConnaughey, Bayard H. and Evelyn McConnaughey. 1985. Pacific Coast: National Audubon Society Nature Series. New York: Knopf.

MacKinnon, Andy, Jim Pojar and R. Coupe. 1992. Plants of Northern British Columbia. Vancouver: Lone Star.

McTaggart-Cowan, Ian and Charles J. Guiguet. 1973. Mammals of British Columbia. Victoria: British Columbia Provincial Museum

Meidinger, Del and Jim Pojar ed. 1991. Ecosystems of British Columbia. Victoria: B.C. Ministry of Forests. This guide describes the various biogeoclimatic zones of B.C. giving ecological conditions, some representative site associations, wildlife habitats including representative species and species at risk.

Merilees, B. 1989. Attracting Backyard Wildlife. Vancouver: Whitecap Books.

Paulson, Dennis. 1993. Shorebirds of the Pacific Northwest. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press/Seattle Audubon Society.

Peterson. Roger Tory. 3rd Ed. 1990. A Field Guide to Western Birds: Peterson Field Guides. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Pojar, Jim and Andy MacKinnon. 1994. Plants of the Pacific Northwest. Vancouver: Lone Star. A wonderful classic-to-be. This book contains excellent information and wry comments on every aspect of plants including ethnobotany by Nancy Turner. Its only drawback is that for the beginner, the flowers are arranged by family not colour. I would recommend using Ches Lyon’s book in conjunction with this one for cross referencing. You will get a lot of pleasure from just perusing this book.

Rowe, J.S. 1972. Forest Regions of Canada. Ottawa: Department of Environment and Canadian Forest Service.

Schalkwijk-Barendsen, Helen. 1991. Mushrooms of Western Canada. Edmonton: Lone Pine.

Snively, G. 1978. Exploring the Seashore in British Columbia, Washington and Oregon. Vancouver: Gordon Soules Book Publishers Ltd.

Suttles, Wayne. Ed. 1990. Handbook of North American Indians: Northwest Coast. Volume 7. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution.

Turner, Nancy. 1975 and 1978. Food Plants of British Columbia Indians. #34, #35. and 1979. Plants of B.C. Indian Technology #38 Victoria: British Columbia Provincial Museum.

Turner, Nancy and L. Thompson, M.T. Thompson and A. York. 1990. Knowledge and Usage of Plants by the Thompson Indians of British Columbia, (memoir #3). Victoria: Royal British Columbia Museum. This is an excellent reference guide, including many species found in coastal B.C.

Valentine, K..W.G. et al. eds. 1978. The Soil Landscapes of British Columbia. Victoria: Province of British Columbia.

Ministry of Environment. Resource Analysis Branch. 197 pp. Overview of soils and soil profiles.

Wooding, Fred. 1982. Wild Mammals of Canada. Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd. (Probably not available except in second hand bookshops, but this is the best overall reference for mammals until we get the full revision of the Royal B.C. Museum Handbook series finished. It has pictures from our local naturalists and the author is local.)

Walbran, Captain John. Reprint, 1971. British Columbia Coast blames. Vancouver: J.J. Douglas Ltd.

Wynn, Graeme and Timothy Oke. 1992. Vancouver and Its Region. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press.

Royal British Columbia Museum Handbook Series. (This series includes everything from bivalves to orchids, dragonflies to bats. Many volumes are out of print but some are being reissued. Check second hand bookstores for any in this series; they are inexpensive and invaluable. There are over 40 of them to collect. The newest ones to be reissued are Bats of B C , Vol. 1 of Mammals of B.C. by Dave Nagorsen and R. Mark Brigham, 1993 and Some Common Mosses of B.C. by W.B. Schoefield, 1992.)

Legal, Inventory, Survey, and Mapping Skills

Aberley, Doug. 1993. Boundaries of Home: Mapping For Local Empowerment. Gabriola Island: New Society Publishers.

Cuff, David J. and Mark T. Hattson. 1982. Thematic Maps, Their Design and Production. New York: Methuen & Co.

Dreyfuss, Henry. 1972. An Authoritative Guide to International Graphic Symbols. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Findlay, Barbara and Ann Hillyer. 1994. Here Today, Here Tomorrow, Legal Tools for Protection of Private Land in B.C. Vancouver: West Coast Environmental Law Research Foundation.

Hammond, Herb. 1991. Seeing the Forest Among the Trees: The Case for Wholistic Forest Use. Vancouver: Pole Star.

Hilts, S., T. Moull, J. Rzadki and M. Van Patten. 1991. Natural Heritage Landowner Contact Training Manual. Ontario: Natural Heritage League.

Institute for Community Economics. 1982. Community Land Trust Handbook. Emmaus: Rodale Press.

Laws, Edward A. 1993. Aquatic Pollution: An Introductory Text. New York: John Wiley.

Loukidelis, David. 1992. Using Conservation Covenants to Preserve Private Land in British Columbia. Vancouver: West Coast Environmental Law Research Foundation.

Ministry of Forests and Lands. 1988. Managing Your Woodland: A Non-Forester’s Guide To Small Scale Forestry In British Columbia. Victoria: Ministry of Forests and Lands/Canadian Forestry Service.

McHarg, Ian. 1969. Design With Nature. Garden City, New York: Doubleday/Natural History Press.

Mollison, Bill. 1990. Permaculture: A Practical Guide To A Sustainable Future. Washington DC: Island Press.

Robinson, Arthur H. et al. Elements of Cartography. 1978. New York: John Wiley.

Steiner, Frederick. The Living Landscape: An Ecological Approach to Landscape Planning. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Walmsley, M. et al. eds. 1980. Describing Ecosystems in the Field. RAB Technical Paper 2. Land Management Report No. 7. Victoria: Province of British Columbia. Ministry of Environment, Resource Analysis Branch and Ministry of Forests, Research Branch. Victoria. 224 pp. This is the first edition of this manual. A revised edition was published in 1994 under the same title.

Wolf, Paul, Russell Brinker. Elementary Surveying. 1994. New York: Harper Collins.

Map Resources

British Columbia Maps and Atlases

British Columbia, Ministry of Forest Research Branch. 1988. Biogeoclimatic Zones of British Columbia. Map. Victoria: Queen’s Printer.

British Columbia Provincial Museum. 1956. Native Indians: Distribution Of Ethnic Groups – 1850. Map. Victoria: Map Reproduction Division.

Canada. Fisheries and Environment Canada. 1978. Inland Waters Directorate. British Columbia Active Hydrometric Stations Map. Ottawa: Inland Waters Directorate.

Demarchi, Dennis A. 1988. Ecoregions of British Columbia. Map. Victoria: Province of British Columbia. Ministry of Environment Wildlife Branch.

Farley, A.L. 1979 Atlas of British Columbia: People, Environment, and Land Use. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press.

FM Studio For The Children’s Project. 1990. Native Lands: Then and Now. Map. North Vancouver: FM Studio.

Proctor, Sharon J. Ed. 1978. Vancouver’s Old Streams. Pamphlet with Map. Vancouver: Vancouver Public Aquarium Association.

Skoda, Lewis. 1975. Georgia Strait Urban Region: A Cartographic Presentation. Map. Ottawa: Urban Affairs Canada. Environment Canada.

Skoda, Lewis. 1982. Energy’ Resources of British Columbia. Map. Victoria: Province of British Columbia. Ministry of Energy, Mines, and Petroleum Resources.

Suttles, Cameron. 1978. Native Languages of the North Pacific Coast of North America. Map. Portland: C. Suttles.

Access to Maps

Useful Addresses and Phone Numbers – Area Code 604 precedes all numbers unless indicated otherwise (Current to January 1995)

Agricultural Land Commission. Agricultural Land Reserve Maps. 4940 Canada Way, Burnaby

British Columbia Archives and Records Service. Historic Maps of B.C., primarily on microfiche. 655 Burdett Street, Victoria

British Columbia Land Title Offices. Map records of all land subdivisions within their region. Kamloops – Suite 114, 455 Columbia Street, Kamloops / Nelson – 3 10 Ward Street, Nelson / New Westminster – 88 6th Street, New Westminster / Prince George – Suite 401, 299 Victoria Street, Prince George / Prince Rupert – 730 2nd Avenue West, Prince Rupert / Victoria – 850 Burdett Avenue, Victoria

British Columbia Ministry of Forests. Forest Cover Maps. showing distribution of tree species and extraction history. 1450 Government St., Victoria

Canadian Map Office. Federal maps. 130 Bently Ave. Ottawa, ON KIA E09

Canada Soil Survey Research Branch. Agriculture Canada. Soil Maps. 6660 N.W. Marine Drive, Vancouver, B.C. V6T 1X2

Canadian Hydrographic Service. Series of navigational charts which can be used for shorelines and intertidal areas on a base map. 9860 West Saanich Road. Sidney, B.C.

Crown Publications. Agents for provincial map sales. 546 Yates, Victoria

Earth Quest Books. 1286 Broad Street, Victoria. B.C.

Geological Survey of Canada. Wide range of topographic and geological maps. 100 Pender Street, Vancouver, B.C.

Island Blueprint. 905 Fort Street. Victoria, B.C.

Maps B.C. British Columbia Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks. Wide range of air photos, topographic, thematic, and cadastral maps. Surveys and Mapping Branch. 3rd Floor, 1802 Douglas St., Victoria

Simon Fraser University. Map Library. General map collection. Main Library Building, 7th Floor

University of British Columbia. Map Library. General map collection. Main Library Building

UBC Department of Geography. Reading Room and Map Library. General map and air photo collection. Geography Department Building

West Coast Environmental Law Association 1001 – 207 West Hastings Street, Vancouver, B.C. V6B 1 H7

World Wide Books and Maps. Wide range of topographic and thematic maps. 736A Granville St., Vancouver

Author Biographies

Doug Aberley is a community and regional planner who for many years worked in Hazelton, B.C. He is editor of Boundaries of Home: Mapping for Local Empowerment (1993) and Futures By Design: The Practice of Ecological Planning (1994), both by New Society Publishers. Doug is currently living in Vancouver where he teaches bioregional planning and barefoot cartography.

Michael Dunn was born and raised in Victoria, British Columbia where he spent much of his childhood exploring the shorelines, forests, lakes and wetlands of the region. He has spent the last twenty-five years in environmental and natural history fields including extensive experience mapping wetlands, vegetation and shorelines. An avid naturalist, he is co-founder of the Bowen Nature Club and the Mayne Island Naturalist’s Club. He resides on Mayne Island with his family.

Malcolm Penn was born in Victoria, British Columbia where he received degrees in Geography and Environmental Studies. He also has a diploma in Agriculture from Olds College, Alberta. Between caretaking his daughters and managing a small farm, Malcolm has worked on mapping projects for the Islands Trust and the Province of British Columbia’s Conservation Data Centre.

Sheila Harrington has lived on the west coast for most of her life. She has written and edited books and magazines focusing on wholistic and environmental topics including Positive Vibrations Magazine, Building Green on the Rural West Coast, and several other publications. Sheila enjoys bringing together people who offer creative solutions for sustainable living.

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