Coast Habitat Atlas
The Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD), in partnership with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (F&OC), has created a Habitat Atlas for the Sunshine Coast. The Habitat Atlas is a series of maps, covering the extent of the SCRD; from Langdale to Egmont and north past the top of Jervis Inlet. Each page of the Atlas contains a map illustrating a number of features, including: streams, roads, trails, land parcels, fish and wildlife habitat, parks and protected areas, watershed boundaries, and aerial photographs. Over 40 different categories, or layers of information have been collected. Each layer is stored on computer in a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) database at the SCRD office in Sechelt.
The database provides up-to-date information to planners, developers, government organizations, municipalities, First Nations, community organizations and local businesses, enabling them to make informed land use and stewardship decisions in support of the protection, enhancement, and restoration of fish habitat and sensitive ecosystems. This is an important initiative since fisheries are a significant economic and environmental resource for our community.
The Habitat Atlas is composed of a compilation of existing data and the collection of new data where gaps in information existed. These themes serve to identify the location of important habitat and its relation to other features.
The Atlas can help the organizations mentioned above by providing accurate mapping for enforcement of the Fish Protection Act (including the Streamside Protection Regulation), the Forest Practices Code, the Water Act, the Land Development Guidelines, and the Local Government Act. The Habitat Atlas also serves as an excellent tool for bringing community groups together by raising public awareness of important areas and generating support for their protection. Finally, the Habitat Atlas serves as a flagging device for identifying areas requiring enhancement and restoration.
The primary objective
of the Sunshine Coast Habitat Atlas initiative was:
To publish and distribute an easy-to-use Habitat Atlas containing an up-to-date mapping and inventory     of aquatic and terrestrial habitat and fish species information for the Sunshine Coast.
In order to achieve
this goal, the following secondary objectives were met:
strengthen and maintain partnerships with government organizations, developers,
First         Nations, community organizations and local
The Sunshine Coast Habitat Atlas project resulted from a Smart Development Workshop held on the Sunshine Coast which provided a foundation for "next steps". Specifically, there was a requirement for more detailed, accurate and up-to-date information for use in the planning processes of the SCRD. These processes include:
educating the community about their natural resource assets,
While the SCRD were
considering methods for acquiring this information, there was an opportunity
for a partnership with Fisheries & Oceans Canada (F&OC) Habitat
Conservation & Stewardship Program (HCSP). F&OC provided examples
of how other Regional Districts were fulfilling their data requirements
with the creation of habitat atlases. The SCRD decided that creating a
habitat atlas for the Sunshine Coast would provide a way to acquire, store
and maintain the detailed and accurate information required for planning
Many accomplishments have been made over the 3 year duration of the Sunshine Coast Habitat Atlas project. Highlights of these accomplishments are listed below.
over 40 different
categories or "layers" of
information have been compiled;
One of the challenges faced by the project was obtaining existing digital information relevant to the Habitat Atlas. Once a dataset was located there were often many hurdles to be overcome before obtaining the information. Hurdles such as licensing issues, confidentiality, high costs, incomplete information, and a lack of resources to respond to and fill data requests.
Whenever possible, data sharing agreements were put in place to facilitate the sharing and/or exchange of information. Sometimes, data sharing agreements were not possible. This was the case with our first attempts to obtain TRIM maps data through a sharing agreement. However, during the second year of the project, TRIM was provided to the SCRD through a data sharing agreement as part of the Integrated Cadastral Initiative (ICI).
At the end of the 3-year Habitat Atlas project, there are over 40 layers of information contained in the Habitat Atlas GIS database. The Habitat Atlas Mapbook has been published, the Mapbook CD is completed, and the project website is up and running. There are strong partnerships in place and many community groups have contributed spatial and anecdotal information to the Atlas. Data collection for over 130 km's of priority streams with a high-end Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver has been completed. Funding was generously supplied by F&OC, Fisheries Renewal BC (FsRBC), and the Urban Salmon Habitat Program (USHP). The field crew adhered to Resources Information Standards Committee (RISC) GPS data standards and followed the Sensitive Habitat Inventory and Mapping (SHIM) guidelines.
A long-term maintenance plan for the Habitat Atlas has been developed. The plan identifies the methods necessary to keep the information stored in the Habitat Atlas maintained and up-to-date. The long-term work requirements of the Sunshine Coast Habitat Atlas are:
maintain the information stored in the Habitat Atlas GIS database,