Recently I wrote a short article about a new photo project by Joel Sartore. Sartore spent years photographing and documenting America’s wide variety of dying and endangered species of animals and insects, and compiled them all in the book National Geographic Rare: Portraits of America’s Endangered Species. The book is at once a moving visual spectacle and a move to action, and for the eco-tourist or budding zoologist, a handbook for where to go to see and possibly work to protect these dying and disappearing creatures.
Wired, at a somewhat important juncture in the history of American wildlife preservation, recently unveiled a new United States ‘ecosystem map,’ which details the complexities of various ecosystems through the United States. And for the eco-tourist, the map is invaluable. Because the extent of the data is so detailed and far-reaching, the map’s searchable data function proves to be a good guide for the scientist, student, or tourist looking to see and in some cases help preserve some of America’s more fragile eco-systems.
The map is a combination of various data analysis projects, using (as the map’s website says) “land cover data generated for the Southwest Regional Gap Analysis project completed in 2004, the Southeast Regional Gap Analysis Project completed in 2007, the Northwest Regional Gap project, and the updated California Gap project completed in 2009. For areas of the country without an Ecological System level Gap project, data created by the Landfire Project was used.” The data on the map is displayed in three different levels, providing a guide to both the flora and fauna of any given U.S. location, but also showing if the cover has recently been changed or disturbed, so people can know where the problem areas are located.
The map may also work well with other maps, like this Carbon Footprint map, or this map national CO2 emissions. And while there are other maps detailing the whereabouts of America’s endangered species, none are as sophisticated or as interactive as the Land Cover map, and for the environmentally conscious traveler, this new compilation of technology and research can really lead to lending itself to positive difference.