Why is Geospatial Analysis Important?
Sustainably and profitably managing forestlands requires that forest managers monitor and predict changes in a wide variety of factors across forested landscapes over long periods of time. In the past two decades, significant advances in Global Positioning Systems (GPS), Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and methods of geospatial analysis have revolutionized forest management, and will continue to do so well into the future. Geospatial technology has become a new “cornerstone” for forestry professionals to provide and protect a wide array of forest resources on private and public lands around the world. As a result, all forest resource students must develop state-of-the-art skills in geospatial analysis.
Geospatial Education and Research at the SFR
To ensure that students at UMaine’s School of Forest Resources (SFR) have advanced skills in geospatial analysis, it is vital that they have access to the latest facilities and training. The Barbara Wheatland Geospatial Analysis Laboratory in Nutting Hall provides a center of excellence for geospatial analysis for undergraduate education, and for graduate student and faculty research. The Wheatland Lab serves as a centerpiece for delivering the forest resources curriculum in geospatial skills to SFR students, as well as training other students in the natural sciences across the campus. The lab is also intended to advance the geospatial skills of forestry professionals through continuing education programs.
Wheatland Lab Features
The Wheatland Laboratory is a convertible lab that can be configured as one large lab with 24 workstations, or as two labs with 12 workstations each by lowering the motorized Skyfold wall.
- 40 Geospatial workstations with dual monitors
- 3 Geospatial teaching stations with dual monitors
- 4 65″ HD flat screen displays
- LED room lighting
- 24-hour access using computerized keycards
- Agisoft PhotoScan
- Remsoft spatial planning
- PathFinder Office
- IBM SPSS
- MS Office
Wheatland Lab Design
The interior was designed in close collaboration with Deb Dall Designs of Stillwater, ME. A natural color pallet is joined with ergonomic furnishings and the latest computer technology to create a comfortable and stimulating atmosphere for learning. The function of the Wheatland Lab is emphasized on the walls using artistic photos of Maine forest landscapes and geospatial images, similar to those that are produced by students in the lab. The aspen stand wall mural and routed wooden sign in the hallway identify the Wheatland Lab as a special place in Nutting Hall.
About Barbara (Bee) Wheatland
Bee Wheatland was born in Topsfield, MA. She attended Radcliffe College at Harvard University and graduated magna cum laude in economics in 1951. After college, Bee pursued a 50-year career that began as an assistant in the engineering department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and culminated at the New England Journal of Medicine where she helped select and edit articles about discoveries and advancements in the medical field. Although Bee spent much of her life in Massachusetts, her heart was always in Maine where she built a home in Sargentville with a view of the water. She raced sailboats, hiked the trails of Mt. Desert Island, and was an organic gardener before the concept existed.
Bee was keenly interested in anything connected with the Maine woods. As a member of the Pingree family she developed an early passion and dedication to the sustainable management of her family’s working forests. She became involved with forestry ventures that included a state-of-the-art sawmill, maple syrup production, and the development of “green” certified forestry practices in the Maine forest. She advanced these efforts through her participation in the Maine TREE Foundation and the Maine Tree Farm program. Bee believed that all small woodland owners in Maine should have access to well-trained, licensed, professional foresters like those produced by UMaine’s forestry program.
Wheatland Lab Endowment
Upon Bee’s death at the age of 80, her estate established the Maine Timberlands Charitable Trust (MTCT) to provide funds for charitable, scientific, literary, or educational purposes. Bee’s hope was that the Trust be used to promote the development of forestry or timberland technology, that the results be available to the public, and that the activities support the working forests of Maine. Bee felt that it was vital for the people of Maine to forever enjoy the aesthetic, environmental, and economic values of the forest.
The MTCT generously endowed the Barbara Wheatland Geospatial Analysis Laboratory in January 2012. In addition to her desire that all Maine woodland owners have access to the best forestry professionals, Bee was fascinated by computer technology in her later life. Therefore, the Wheatland Lab nicely combines two of Bee’s passions. Thanks to Bee’s generosity, generations of UMaine’s forest resources students will go on to advance the sustainable management of forestland in Maine and around the world.