Faces & Places: Ian Parfitt

headshot_ianparfitt-165x165Some of you may be familiar with this old definition of ecology: “the distribution and abundance of species.” This definition illustrates why GIS is so useful for conservation, since distribution is the geographic area where a species occurs (geometry in GIS lingo) while abundance is a measure of the absolute or relative number of species at that location (an attribute of a spatial feature). This neat fit is one of the things that Ian loves about geographic information – just a bit behind his love for the way maps can transport us to another place or time.

Ian’s conservation work began when he became the GIS department for various NGOs in the early 1990s and then matured as he toiled as GIS Coordinator for BC Hydro’s Fish & Wildife Compensation Program from 1996 to 2003. Ian became an instructor and researcher at Selkirk College’s Geospatial Research Centre (SGRC) in 2003 and is now mainly office-bound as the SGRC Coordinator. He has worked on many conservation projects in the region, most notably the Columbia Basin Biodiversity Atlas (www.biodiversityatlas.org), wolverine habitat analysis, deciduous and old growth forest analysis, whitebark pine distribution, and citizen science. He got out of the office and into the field exactly twice this summer, but hopes that will increase as the SGRC expands its’ use of unmanned aerial systems in the years ahead.