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Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Vegetation Maps and Stimulated Minds



Recently, I have been inspired by the Human Footprint maps of National Geographic Maps. Human Footprint map of Africa was built on four layers representative human impact on the environment -Africa Human Footprint Map. I wanted to make a map similar to this for Malaysia. Unlike National Geographic Maps continental coverage map of Africa, my area coverage was 300 000 sq km or so (100 times smaller than Africa). Hence, the difficulties in finding data needed for human footprint map of Malaysia increased.

Since Malaysia do not practice open data policy, searching GIS data needed for any map is like going for treasure hunt. Fortunately, I had access to older version Open Street Map road network dataset and DIVA GIS datasets (for the rivers, lakes etc.). The key part of the map is to show the disturbance of tree cover (this may include oil palm, rubber and general forested areas) in Malaysia. I was fortunate to stumble on Global Forest Change where I got the crucial data. Once the dataset were obtained, the remaining part of the map project is purely cartographic work. Using +QGIS , I used layer blending to highlight the density of the road of various areas. I used Print Composer to create multiple maps in one map. The above map is one example of this project.

Once I begin to advertise on social media circles, I see people's mind stimulated:
  1. Why does some areas of Peninsular Malaysia is experiencing higher loss of vegetation? Is it because of the increased oil palm plantation area?
  2. Why does some map has incomplete dataset of the lakes? If you refer to the first map of the post, some of the red areas are water areas? 
  3. Why does the Sea are is coloured green or red? It can confuse people - this has been corrected
  4. People spoke highly about the quality of the map that was produced in +QGIS 
  5. For the maps of Borneo, some raised the Indonesian state borders are not accurate. I countered that  the map focuses on changes to vegetation, not so much of anything else. However, I am willing to hear any free sources of updated boundaries.
  6. A person requested similar maps for Borneo (below are the three maps I supplied him) after seeing it on the social media
  7. These maps are the few maps I made had great social media reach in terms of sharing and liking (be it promoting QGIS or the topic it covered).


Tree Cover of Borneo




Important tips in +QGIS when I was producing the map:

  1. Print Composer (For better looking North arrow, please refer to step 28)
  2. Vector Symbology (For options to feature blending - i.e. road density, refer to Layer rendering)

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