THE TRUE AREA OF AGRICULTURAL LAND RESERVE: CARIBOO

For our final project of the course we worked in groups of four. I worked with three other girls: Hannah, Linnea and Karmina. My goal for this project was to get more comfortable with finding data sets appropriate for GIS analysis and also to learn more about Agricultural Land Reserves (ALR). I was able to achieve my goals with help from my teammates by the end of the project. We prepared a thorough report of our analysis and here’s a brief summary of our project:

The British Columbia Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) is a system that classifies and preserves potential agricultural land. However, the ALR is not as accurate as necessary for this system to be beneficial. For example, features such as residential homes, water features, protected forests, and oil wells at times fall into the ALR and are not removed from the overall area. Issues such as these make the ALR less accurate than it should be.The goal of this project was to analyze the ALR within BC, in particular the Cariboo region, and calculate how much of the ALR is actually used for its purpose. From our analysis, we estimate that the actual area of land suitable for agriculture is 1.29 ha, and is 0.00002% of the entire Cariboo region. We determined this value by eliminating parks, buildings, aboriginal land reserves, and land cover that is not annual or perennial crops and pastures. To do so, we made about a dozen maps of the areas we eliminated and showed the suitable area for agriculture in the final map (Figure 1) in addition to the steps we took for each map in our flowchart (Figure 2). 

Map 8 final proj

Figure 1 – Final map

final flowchart

Figure 2 – Flowchart

Producing about a dozen maps was a very tedious job. My teammates and I spend hours and hours to find accurate data and to fix them for our analysis. Sometimes we found the data that were incomplete and we had to look even more. It was very very very frustrating but we managed to get all the data we need with a lot of help from our instructors and TA . By our third meeting we realized it’s more efficient to work in pairs so we split for the remaining maps. We communicated through Facebook and Google Documents. All my team members worked very hard to get our results and I thank every single one of them.

I learned a lot from this project from facts about ALR’s to GIS tools and techniques. Here are 5 most important / interesting things I learned from this projects:

  • All the area reserved for ALR is not actually suitable for farming
  • The ALR areas are not just dedicated to agriculture. They contain various land uses
  • I worked with some new GIS tools like slope analysis and reclassify
  • I understood the difference between union and merge
  • I realized most of the work in a GIS project is finding appropriate data and not the analysis
  • I realized more people in the team means better results and that communication is key in teamwork

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