» Mapping Mapping | Ecotrust Canada


How can we tap natural capital—timber, wildlife, fresh water, plants, minerals—to produce economic wealth in a socially and environmentally responsible manner if we have little understanding of our surrounding landscape?

A rainforest, for instance, is more than a stand of trees. It is a medicine cabinet for First Nations, a home to myriad animals and habitat for spawning salmon. The value of a rainforest goes well beyond the market price of timber. But how do we measure these other values in order to realize them? One way is through mapping.

In 1995, Ecotrust Canada began its work on the coast by collecting and then mapping scientific data and the traditional knowledge of First Nations and coastal communities using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology. Since then, Ecotrust Canada has held GIS training sessions or helped set up mapping programs with more than two dozen First Nations and communities. We also operate the Aboriginal Mapping Network, a free, online resource and forum connecting mappers around the globe.

Ecotrust Canada’s mapping and GIS program is founded on six operating principles: open access to public information; respect for local and traditional knowledge; a commitment to best practices; helping to realize local community visions; building long-term local capacity; and a commitment to network communities and individuals. Taken together, these principles promote what we call “information democracy” and they result in the greater empowerment of communities.


Our Services

We provide services for customized solutions in:

  • Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
  • Mapping
  • Land/water use and resource planning
  • Software development

Our team includes community development planners, cartographers, GIS analysts, and software developers — all with extensive experience working with First Nations and rural communities in British Columbia.

We tailor our work and processes to the specific needs of each community, designing customized on-site training and technical support programs. These training programs give communities the knowledge and tools they need to develop long-term, local capacity for problem-solving.

Our expertise:

  • Traditional Use and Occupancy mapping
  • Land use inventories and planning
  • Cumulative effects assessments
  • Land and water spatial analysis and modelling
  • Forest inventory techniques
  • Fish and fish habitat inventory techniques

Our services:

  • On-site community needs assessments
  • Introductory to advanced GIS training
  • Data collection
  • Database management
  • Web-based mapping and resource management tools
  • Customized maps and reporting tools
  • Communication design and publication
  • On-call technical support

We support communities in mapping more sustainable futures — helping them understand, communicate, and engage with their territory and decision-makers.

Mapping projects