Bioregional Features Menu

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.

We need to provide for all life systems to continue and multiply, working with rather than against nature, looking at people and systems in all their functions, allowing systems to demonstrate their own evolution.” —Bill Mollison, “Permaculture Ethics,” A Designer’s Manual, 1990)

Differing from a parcel level map, bioregional maps should include an equal amount of information on both cultural and biophysical features. The types of data that can be mapped are virtually limitless. To assist you in deciding what to map, the following list is offered as a menu. Pick and choose—and feel free to make new categories which are important for guiding the future of your home or region.

Headings in the following list correspond to types of map information which may be included in a Bioregional Map Atlas.

1. Atlas cover sheet
  • Name of atlas/logo
  • Why the atlas was created
  • Who helped to make the atlas
  • Contents
  • Who helped to pay for the atlas project
  • Where comments should be sent
2. Location keys
  • Map area in relation to larger identifiable land areas (region, province, western Canada, western North America, hemisphere, etc.)
3. Base map
  • Atlas title block
  • North arrow & scale indicator
  • Production credits
  • Planimetric outline of coastline, major waterways, several highest mountain peaks
  • Border of area being mapped (neighbourhood, island, watershed, bioregion)
4. Topography
  • Copy of topographic sheet used to create the base map
  • Notations on sheet showing width and breadth of map area, population, number of settlements or other basic descriptive information.
5. Generalized geology
  • Surficial geology
  • Bedrock geology
  • Glacial history
  • Cross sections
  • Mineral deposit locations and exploitation histories
  • Fault line location, earthquakes (dates, epicentres, intensities)
  • Location of caves, hot springs, other special features
  • Sketches/photos of special geologic features
6. Soils
  • Agriculturally productive soils
  • Canada Land Inventory soil rating
  • Soil series profiles
  • Areas of high erosion potential
  • Unstable soil and landslide zones
  • Logging roads that need to be “put to bed” to reduce erosion
  • Roads, culverts, or development which block natural drainage
  • Areas where soils are tainted by waste
7. Physiographic regions
  • Land form regions and their names
  • Highest and lowest point in each land form region
8. Elevation contours
  • Summarized into categories such as “less than 500 feet,” “500-2500 feet,” “above 2500 feet”
  • Elevation of highest and lowest points in study area
9. Climate
  • Climate station locations and summary records
  • Dates of and location of most intense storms, snowfalls, floods, heat waves, etc.
  • Location of warmest and coldest temperature readings
  • Area of highest rainfall, snowfall, temperature, etc.
  • Wind velocity, direction, patterns
  • Relative humidity, precipitation
  • Temperature, solar income
  • Growing seasons
  • Fog and frost frequencies
  • Present and potential future impacts of climate change
10. Hydrology
  • Aquifer locations, depth, flow, capacity, chemical composition
  • Drainage basins and discharge profiles
  • Flood plains, historic flood levels
  • Well locations, date drilled, flow profile, chemical composition
  • Fresh water and marine habitat characteristics
  • Water quality test results (turbidity, BOD, chemical composition)
  • Water table
  • Location of buried streams
11. Flora
  • Lists of current, threatened & extinct species
  • List of indicator species
  • Comparison of historic and present area of species habitats
  • Location of biggest, oldest, or highest concentration of indicator species
12. Fauna
  • Lists of current, threatened and extinct species
  • List of indicator species
  • Comparison of historic and present area of species habitats
  • Food web
  • Mating, denning, nesting locations
  • Record of sightings (date, species, number)
  • Migration routes within and through study area
13. Ecosystems
  • Ecosystem communities by domain, region, biogeoclimatic zone, subzone, etc.
  • Dominant characteristics of ecosystem communities
  • Major ecosystem disturbances
14. First Nations/Original occupying groups
  • Historic tribal and clan territories
  • Present land claim
  • Linguistic areas
  • Population trends
  • Permanent & seasonal settlement locations
  • Traditional land use locations (berry picking, fishing, etc.)
  • Sacred places (general locations only)
  • Traditional place names & meanings
  • Resource uses
  • Demographic profile and comparison with larger regional society
15. European colonization
  • Dates and routes of emigration if known
  • Colonization routes and dates
  • Location and brief description of historic events (location of battles, forts, natural disasters, colonization routes, etc.)
  • First occupancy areas; methods of survival
  • Housing, food, resource uses
  • Cultural practices
16. Political administration
  • Administrative regions current in study area
  • Federal/provincial/regional electoral areas
  • Human resource management regions
  • Natural resource management regions
17. Demographic trends
  • Population (age/sex ratios)
  • Ethnic composition, immigration and emigra­tion rates
  • Individual, household, and family income levels
  • Labour force distribution
  • Education levels
  • Accident and mortality rates by type
18. Culture
  • Location and condition of cultural amenities (schools, churches, libraries, sports fields, hospitals, day care centres, senior centres, community centres & halls, theatres, etc.)
  • List of cultural amenities not currently available in community
  • Location of prisons, police stations, security agencies
  • Literary history (author’s homes, story locations)
  • Architectural styles and distribution; location of buildings which best represent a particular architectural style
  • Distinctive dialects and other cultural charac­teristics
  • Pictures, biographical profiles, location of residence of ten most famous past and current community leaders, authors, artists, etc.
  • Locations where crime is concentrated
  • Distribution of services dedicated to use by specific age, gender, ethnic group
  • Location of places deemed important to preser­vation of community identity
  • Areas of social dysfunction
19. Land use
  • History of land ownership and value (uses, zoning etc.)
  • History of land improvements (structures, fences, gardens, wells, etc.)
  • Historic subdivision patterns
  • Settlement pattern history (change in density of development structures and/or communities)
  • Roadways which are dangerous for pedestrians or bicycles
  • Barriers to access by children and the physi­cally challenged
  • Locate heritage buildings, mark their age and condition, list current owners
  • Delineate neighbourhood village boundaries within larger urban centres
  • Land clearing time series (e.g. cleared vs forested land 1950 and 1990 as traced from air photos)
  • Settlements time series (how urban places have grown over time, either by cover of land, or expansion of boundaries)
  • Identify vacant publicly owned land
  • Areas impervious to rainwater infiltration
  • Land uses defined by age and gender group most using them (elders, children, teens, etc.)
  • Identify holdings of largest landowners
  • Chart age and condition of major infrastructure, including roads, sidewalks, street trees, etc.
20. Food
  • Wild food species and habitats locations
  • Areas of high agricultural production and/or capability
  • Food sources & distribution patterns
  • Location of locally owned food processors and sellers
  • Estimate of ability of region to be self reliant in different types of food
  • Names of plant and animal varieties historically grown in area
  • Growing seasons for different food varieties
21. Water
  • Sources and delivery infrastructure of potable water
  • Irrigation and non-potable water sources
  • Trend in costs of public water supply
  • Threats to water quality
  • Water quality testing records
  • Volume of water used by category (home, garden, industry, commercial, etc.)
22. Energy
  • Source, delivery infrastructure and volume of energy supply by type (hydro, nuclear, gas, coal, wood, wind, solar, etc.)
  • Present and historic supply mix
  • Location of energy efficient structures or manufacturing operations
  • Percentage of total energy demand from outside sources
23. Transportation
  • Road networks, ferry networks, ports, airports
  • Present and historic traffic counts, passenger counts, and freight throughput
  • Accident records; accident black spots
  • Graph of historic tariff and fuel cost increases
  • Locations of bus stops, taxi stands, ferry terminals, large parking lots, stop lights, etc.
  • Acreage covered for transportation purposes
24. Solid waste
  • Location of dumps, septic tank disposal, incinerators, public garbage receptacles
  • Recycling and composting facilities
  • Location of industrial agriculture operations (feed lots, poultry farms, etc.)
  • Estimated vol. and make-up of waste stream
  • Location and output of largest waste makers by volume, weight, toxicity
25. Economy
  • Present and historic distribution of employ­ment types
  • Present and historic economic performance indicators
  • Economic sector profiles (tourism, retail, wholesale, industrial, service, institutional, military)
  • Extraction records for primary and natural resource based industries (fisheries, mining, forestry, agriculture)
  • Location and date of company ownership transfers, closure, expansions
  • Major employers by type and number of employees
  • Largest locally owned businesses
  • Local and regional government tax burden and debt trend analysis
  • Property sale price trend analysis
26. Environmental degradation
  • Known major sources of water, air and soil pollution
  • Location and results of water, soil and air quality sampling
  • Areas of conflict between wildlife and human communities
  • Pollution plume patterns (untreated sewage discharge, incinerator smoke, etc.)
  • Degraded forest lands (date of clear-cut, location of roads, landslides, etc.)
  • Environmental threat issues identified (farmland destruction, nutrient loading by waste streams) etc.
27. Protected areas
  • Present parks, wilderness areas, reserves with sizes, date of protection, and visitation rates
  • Additional areas that should be protected to maintain biodiversity
  • Percentage of each habitat type which remains undeveloped, and in protected areas
  • Percentage of alpine vs lowlands protected
  • Proposal for how existing protected areas could be joined together to al low long-term protection of biodiversity
28. Problems
  • Make notations of the most critical social and environmental challenges which exist within the map area. If site specific, draw lines from the notations to the places where challenges exist.
29. Solutions
  • Make notations of actions required to begin solving social and environmental challenges which exist within the map area. If site specific, draw lines from the notations to the place where the restoration or actions should take place.
30. Summary of findings (end sheet, no map)
  • What has been learned in the mapping process
  • The most critical problems which must be addressed
  • The most important current attributes to be protected
  • Priority of actions revealed in the atlas
  • A means of achieving sustainability and social justice
  • A spatial frame of reference
  • A social and ecological planning unit
  • A potential political unit
  • A cultural entity
About “Envisioning Cascadia, A Bioregional Atlas”

This atlas was prepared by The UBC School of Community and Regional Planning, Cascadia Planning Team, comprised of students in a Regional Planning Workshop.

The maps are based on the boundaries of the Cascadian bioregion as established by David McCloskey in 1988.

The boundaries of Cascadia are physical not political. Its eastern edge is formed largely by the mountain tops of the continental divide. When you look at the maps in this orientation, you can imagine you are standing on the heights above the headwaters of all the rivers that flow into the Northeast Pacific. To your right is the Alaska panhandle and the direction from which all the original Turtle Island settlers are thought to have come.

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