Division of Forestry Geographic Information Systems

What is GIS?

GIS Layer Diagram

A Geographic Information System (GIS) is a specialized, database-driven computer information system. The database contains observations of spatially distributed features, activities or events, which can be defined in space as points, lines or areas.

The GIS allows users to capture, store, display, manipulate and analyze geographically referenced data.

Foresters and other decision-makers can use GIS to discover and demonstrate spatial relationships, making GIS a valuable tool to explore management and policy alternatives.

Illustration courtesy U.S. Government Accountability Office

GIS at the Alaska Division of Forestry (DOF)

The Division of Forestry (DOF) uses Geographic Information System (GIS) technology as a tool to aid in the management of its resources, in both the Resource and Fire Programs. The Fire and Resource programs utilize GIS to extract and query spatial information, which allows the user to represent and display the data in tabular or graphic (i.e. maps) formats. The Division operates on a landscape and statewide level, and so uses the system to accomplish two basic functions:

  1. 1. Spatially convey the Division's actions to the public, industry, and other land managers.
  2. 2. Store and document information that is spatially relevant to forest resources and wild land fire management.

Forest Resources and GIS

Geographic information is essential to modern forest resource management, and because of this, there is a need for a wide variety for the collection and management of spatial data. GIS helps managers visualize and analyse forest operations.

Timber inventories and status, landownership, hydrology, logging roads are all feature layers that are important for resource management plans.


Wild Land Fire and GIS

GIS allows for the enhancement of the core fire management capabilities, such as:

  1. Planning and Analysis
  2. Data Management
  3. Situational Awareness
  4. Field Operations

GIS allows for maximizing data for planning for emergencies before they occur, such as fuel mitigation work. GIS stores spatial information in a digital mapping environment that allows fire managers to quickly select and view data that can influence fire behavior. The likelihood of wildfire ignitions can be predicted by locating historical fire locations and identifying potential ignition sources (e.g., power lines, roads, industrial areas, housing areas). Factors such as vegetation types, slopes, aspects, natural or man-made barriers, and historical weather patterns integrated and modeled to identify potential fire behavior. Additional actions, such as vegetation modification, fire prevention programs, and code compliance, can be planned and modeled using GIS.ESRI