This workbook is a result of several years experience in applying geographic information systems (GIS) technology to typical forestry, natural resource management, and environmental problems. Many of the terms and concepts introduced in this book have been compiled from a variety of different sources. These include some of the prevalent text books in the field, but most have been firmly implanted from practical experience. GIS is in essence, an applied science. The more hands-on you have the more entrenched the methodologies and techniques become for effectively applying the technology.
The sample applications presented in the GIS Primer have been compiled from my experiences representing real operational requirements of selected IGIS clients, past and present. These sources include provincial and federal natural resource agencies in Canada and the United States, and private forestry companies across North America. The models and/or formulas used in the sample applications have been simplified in an effort to focus on procedures and techniques for applying GIS. The sample applications are presented to provide simple operational examples of fundamental GIS analysis techniques.
Annual updates are undertaken to this book to reflect the dynamic nature of the commercial GIS marketplace, and to reflect my understanding of what GIS really is. The ever increasing rate of technological change prompts me to update the Primer to reflect the new and exciting capabilities that GIS technology provides. For the novice reader, don't be overwhelmed with this change. GIS has changed so drastically since this book was originally written in 1988; but in so many ways remains the same. Changing technology has provided many more capabilities and possibilities, often beyond the comprehension of the average user. Nonetheless, ultimately the tool is only as good as the craftsman using it. Consistently it is the imagination and creativity of the domain specialist using GIS that makes GIS work, not the new technological capabilities or increased performance. I believe that while the GIS vendor community, hardware and software vendors alike, provide us with newer, better and faster technological tools, it is in the end, the domain specialists applying the tool that define state-of-the-art. The heartbeat of GIS still lies in the field and district offices, the logging divisions, the engineering offices, and with the small GIS entrepreneurs in offices everywhere.
Many thanks to my colleagues, past and present, who have supported me and worked with me over the years. This workbook reflects our collective experiences and knowledge. A special thanks to my partners at IGIS who share a common vision of the role of GIS in today's society. And lastly, to Joe Berry, my GIS partner in crime, who continues to amaze me with his insight and genuine love for all things GISsy. Many of the figures and diagrams in the Primer are graciously provided by Joe from his gCON Software set. Many thanks for all your support.
The GIS Primer is provided by Innovative GIS Solutions, Inc. as the workbook and reference document for all our introductory GIS education workshops. If you'd like more copies please give us a call.
David J. Buckley
Fort Collins, Colorado
e-mail: dbuckley@ pacificmeridian.com