"Step By Step" Training

Maps & GPS

This page has been set up to share photos & video relating to the "Maps & GPS" chapter of "Step By Step, A Tree Planter's Handbook." Visit www.replant.ca/books to see books about tree planting.

Maps can look complicated, but it's easy to learn a few simple map-reading skills that make a planter's life much easier.

One good safety practice is to write the block number on the mirror, with a dry-erase marker, so if there's an emergency and the foreman isn't present, any planter will immediately know what the location is when summoning outside help.

Having a copy of the block map on the dashboard is another important SOP (standard operating procedure).

If you're going to put a copy of the map on the dashboard, you should also put a copy of an ERP (emergency response plan). This plan gives information about how to react in the event of an emergency. It will contain information such as radio channel frequencies, information for contacts at the planting company and at the licensee/mill, phone numbers for local hospital and air ambulance, and much more.

The "Avenza Maps" app is a very useful app for working with maps. If the map is a special "georeferenced" map, you can even tie it with the GPS in your mobile device to see your exact location on the map. Avenza allows you to do things such as draw in an area on the map (such as a planter's piece) and determine the exact size of that area.

The compass rose is printed on most maps to indicate which direction is north. By default, most maps have north at the top of the map.

Contour lines indicate areas of equivalent elevation.

Some of the contour lines are marked to indicate the elevations. This photo shows a 700m elevation line, and a 1000m elevation line.

Some maps may actually give you an estimate of the slopes in different parts of the block, although this type of map isn't very common.

There are many different types of coordinate systems in use around the world. If you don't know what coordinate system your map is using, you're going to run into problems.

In this screenshot from a device using the Avenza app, it's possible to see the "blue dot" which indicates where the device is located on the map.

Even if you don't know elevations, you can sometimes figure out approximate differences (high points vs. low points) by studying the layout of streams and rivers. For example, a river doesn't just "stop" unless it empties into a pond or lake, so a terminus at one end of a river must be the highest point (the starting point) of the water flow.

GPS stands for Global Positioning System.

The latitude refers to the distance away from the equator.

The longitude refers to the distance (east/west) away from the Prime Meridian, which is located in Greenwich, England.

These are the symbols used in latitude and longitude designations.

Here are some different ways of notating the degrees of latitude and longitude.

Sometimes, you can see coordinate markings on the edges of maps.

Here is a sample overview map for a series of blocks located west of Williams Lake, BC.

Here is a sample overview map for the area around Mount Robson, just west of Jasper, Alberta.

Here is a sample overview map for some blocks southwest of Prince George, BC.

Here is a sample overview map for the area north of Prince George, BC.

Here is a sample overview map for the area around Williston Lake, near Mackenzie, BC.

The GPS network was developed by the United States. There are other similar systems that have been built by other countries, such as China, Russia, and the European Union.

Here, a forester can be seen using a GPS device in the field.

The yellow road is the road heading back to town.

Here's a map at a scale of 1:10,000. In other words, one centimeter on the map (if it is printed on the proper size paper) is equivalent to 10,000 centimeters (100m) in the real world. This scale is suitable for a lot of block maps.

Here's a map at a scale of 1:175,000. One centimeter on the map is equivalent to 175,000 centimeters (1.75km) in the real world. This scale is suitable for large area/overview maps.

If the map shows a specific latitude and longitude, that point is probably either the center of the map and/or a specific "tie point" on the map.

Click here to see a page listing books related to reforestation in Canada. If you received a photocopied version of this book from your planting company, or you're a trainer at a Canadian planting company, click on this link for more information.