Forestarium: A Website and Interactive Map for Forest History in Quebec

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An English introduction to Forestarium: the new website and interactive map presented by Société d’histoire forestière du Québec. La version française est ici.

This interactive map project was launched by the SHFQ in 2013 due to the support and collaboration of NiCHE, the Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), the Ministry of Natural Resources of Quebecthe Conference of Elected Officials of the National Capital Region (CRE) and the Interuniversity Centre for Aboriginal Studies and Research (CIERA). This project aims to make socio-historical data on the National Capital Region (Capitale-Nationale) accessible to a diverse audience. The heart of this project consists of an interactive geographical map that presents written documentation, video and audio clips, as well as images. These different elements are complemented by various dynamic timelines that offer public education tools in relation to forestry history. The online content is geo-referenced, and therefore can be geographically located and linked with a series of administrative and natural boundaries in Quebec.

We expect to offer a web experience where finding information is easy, intuitive and above all enjoyable for both the seasoned researcher and the general public interested in environmental history. To do this, the information is organized according to key themes in current environmental history. Themes include historical ecology and conservation, the history of industrial land use, traditional Aboriginal occupation as well as recreational uses. Users can access information in one of two ways; either by accessing larger subjects that are of general interest or by choosing more detailed research with hyperlinks to data such as sound recordings, research reports, articles or books.

Among the proposed interactive map content, information on forest fires occurring between 1921 and 2012 within the National Capital Region (Capitale-Nationale) can be accessed. The data on these fires includes location, size, year, ignition source (human or lightning) as well as which protection agency was mandated. This information can be overlaid on other elements such as historical maps, the location of natural or protected areas, and pulp and paper factories. This allows you to understand how the forestry history of region has been affected by forest fires. The information can also be used for various study and research purposes such as the analysis of the impact of climate change, modeling post-fire regeneration as well as the study of ecosystem dynamics. For example, it is possible to see the impact of the spruce budworm in a region that has been ravaged by fire a few years earlier.

For each forest fire identified on the map, a link to the SHFQ website is provided where the annual report of the agency that handled the fire is available for download. Thus, thousands of documents from the SHFQ database are made ​​available for free through this project. Finally, via the website, two SHFQ publications are made available to better understand the broader historical context of forest fire protection in Quebec: the work of Patrick Blanchet, Forest Fires – A war story as well as the magazineHistoires forestières: Spécial feux de forêt.

Roy Dussault is a research assistant with the Société d’histoire forestière du Québec.


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