A new web-based mapping tool is showing Clayoquot residents how climate change may affect them, which areas were logged in the past 40 years, and how wildlife populations have changed over time. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The tool also displays cultural data, such as Nuu-chah-nulth place names, and photos, stories, and videos about the Clayoquot region.

The Living Atlas (http://livingatlas.org/) was developed by Ecotrust Canada’s Knowledge Systems and Planning team. The project is still in beta development, but the KS&P team has already gotten a taste of the potential of this tool. Near the end of the first phase of the project in March 2010, the team took a working demonstration of the Living Atlas on the road to Tofino, Ucluelet, and Ahousaht.

“Audiences ranged from Grade 5 and 7 students to technical staff of the West Coast Aquatic Management Board to elders in Ahousaht, and all found something to interest them,” says Lorin Gaertner, GIS Analyst with Ecotrust Canada. “This tool allows people to easily access complex data, without the high cost of commercial software or training.”

All the data in the Living Atlas has a start and end date. Users can use the “timeslider” tool at the bottom of the page to see changes over time, and can even look into the future to see projected changes, such as temperature and rainfall. The data comes from a variety of government, academic, and community sources.

“The Living Atlas could be used as an educational tool, to share and publish cultural information, and for community planning,” says Grant Gilron, Applications Developer. “There’s a lot of interest from other communities and we’re working to add other regions to the tool in the future.”

The Living Atlas was co-funded by Geoconnections Canada, Ecotrust Canada, The Clayoquot Central Region Board, RBC Foundation, Marisla Foundation, and an anonymous foundation. Graphic design was done by Skipp Design.