Interpreting Domain History using GIS Data
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Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is a dynamic software program that combines, manipulates, analyzes and displays geographic data. The goal of this study was to introduce students to the fundamentals of GIS while contributing to the Sewanee Forest History Project (SFHP). The SFHP is a database of historical documents pertaining to past management of Sewanee’s natural areas. GIS allows us to display historical forest events in their precise geographical context for future research and cataloging at The University of the South. Three students used historical documentation, harvest contracts, hand-drawn maps and personal interviews to compile information and create comprehensive maps of forest use and management of the university’s land holdings from the 1950s – 1980s. The resulting product of this study include four GIS maps highlighting fire occurrence and timber harvests during the aforementioned period. Environmental Studies students learned the basics of GIS, a valuable and marketable skill, while contributing to the Sewanee Forest History Project.