Why use maps? Unless your site is very small (<1 acre) it is unlikely to be completely uniform in terms of slope, aspect, soil composition, drainage, existing vegetation and other features. An analysis of a single location within your site could be minimally useful at best, and downright misleading at worst. It is important to sample your site at enough locations to develop a reasonable picture of the variation that exists. It is equally important to retain a clear record of the sampling location for each set of results you obtain. Maps are useful tools in sampling and recording variation within your site.
In Section 1 we introduced the idea that planning your forest farm involves a three-stage process: 1) gathering information about your site, 2) comparing your site characteristics with the requirements of potential NTFCs (candidate species) and, 3) integrating the two into a preliminary site design. Maps are helpful in visualizing and coordinating this process, and mapping is an important part of all three stages.
Consider the following three types of maps:
A good way to record variation within your site is to start with an accurate base map. Then add information arising from your assessment activities to create your site assessment map. In this way your base map becomes your site assessment map. Third, your crop selection/design map will locate where you will establish the different elements of your forest farming system.
The Workbook (page # 4) lists types of maps that can contribute to your map making process. Use this worksheet to keep track of types and sources of maps that you use to make your base map and build your site assessment maps.
See the corresponding pages in the MNG Case Study Workbook for examples maps and sources.
Workbook and Map Resources