About CMN

Welcome to the Community Mapping Network (CMN).

This site was created to share a wealth of natural resource information and maps with communities in British Columbia, Canada. A Summary Report (March, 2005) is available that describes some of the projects completed in the early years and the report demonstrates how the CMN has helped communities with resource planning and showcases some of the CMN’s successes. Since then CMN has continued to build on those achievements, strengthening our ENGO community connections and staying up to date with modern internet technology.

Uses of Information

The CMN integrates data from many sources and makes it accessible through a user friendly mapping system. There are many uses of the information including:

  • community planning
  • storm water management
  • habitat restoration and enhancement
  • watershed planning
  • watershed health assessment
  • development referrals
  • impact assessment
  • coastal planning
  • research
  • education and awareness
  • emergency response
  • invasive species early detection & rapid response (EDRR)


The main objective of the CMN is to promote planning sustainable communities. Many sensitive habitats such as urban and smaller rural watercourses, eelgrass beds, riparian areas and wetlands remain unknown, poorly understood, and suffer from impacts of human development. Methods provided through CMN reflect a novel set of tools to explore and promote awareness of these habitats by mapping their location and inventorying their attributes. The awareness and commitment to local watercourses and other sensitive habitats is an important process created through co-operation of local communities, First Nations, municipalities, planners, and managers. Community mapping methods comprise a set of tools and methods that can be used to help conserve fisheries, wildlife and aquatic habitat resources throughout British Columbia.

What We Do

The Community Mapping Network:

  • Builds capacity within communities to collect and manage resource information;
  • Uses a network of servers to provide internet access to resource information, base maps and imagery;
  • Develops common methods and standards for data collection;
  • Links community based mapping with government data bases such as the Canada/BC Fisheries Information Summary Systems (FISS) and the Coastal Resource Information System (CRIS);
  • Shares ideas and project information locally and internationally;
  • Provides information about watershed management, stream ecology, fish and wildlife habitat and restoration opportunities and promotes active stewardship;
  • Creates an open forum for discussing the use and management of natural resources; and
  • Promotes planning sustainable communities.

Mapping Projects

Selected information and thematic maps are available at a scale of 1:5,000 for the Georgia Basin and Central Okanagan. Province-wide coverage is available for watercourses, fish distribution, coastal resources and other themes. Several mapping projects exist for specific resources or for specific areas. Visit the Atlas Gallery of over 60 interactive web maps some with on-line data entry functions.

The Community Mapping Network integrates community and government natural resource information using an interactive geographical information system called Mapguide Open Source. A series of servers are utilized to share the workload of serving province-wide base maps, high resolution orthophotography and selected resource information. Maps and natural resource information are “web-served” to assist communities and local governments with landuse planning, to promote conservation and protection of sensitive habitats and to raise awareness and respect for ecological values. Many types of information are provided through the CMN such as fish and wildlife distribution, streams and wetlands, eagles and herons, rare and endangered species, and possible restoration sites.

Digitizing Tools

On-line digitizing tools can be used to update and edit existing resource information and to delineate the location of community mapping projects in British Columbia, Canada and around the world.

Sensitive Habitat Inventory and Mapping (SHIM) Methods

Sensitive Habitat Inventory and Mapping (SHIM) methods were developed by the CMN with the interest, cooperation and participation of many individuals and groups. The SHIM method is a community-based approach to mapping aquatic habitats and their riparian areas, primarily for settlement areas of British Columbia. SHIM provides reliable, current, and spatially accurate information about fish and wildlife habitats. Watercourses are mapped at a 1:5,000 scale and builds on local and senior government information. Further development and refining of these methods is progressing including new modules for mapping wildlife, wetlands and for delineating top of bank. Sensitive Habitat Inventory and Mapping methods utilize state of the art GPS technology as the foundation for collecting accurate information. SHIM method development is ongoing and integrates at least eight years of experience and consultation with specialists, local community groups and agencies within the Georgia Basin and West Coast of British Columbia. SHIM methods are intended for distribution and use as a watercourse mapping standard. The method is comprised of a series of modules describing tools to inventory, precisely map and compile data for BC urban and rural watercourses. The use of SHIM or other standardized mapping methods to locate, map and inventory watercourses will:

  • greatly improve information about watercourses to strengthen rationale for better protection and restoration of streams and riparian habitats in the face of continued land development
  • assist managers, planners and communities alike in the successful resource inventory, land use planning, freshwater restoration, enhancement and assessment of BC’s urban/rural watercourses;
  • improve the confidence of government agents in the information that non-government organizations collect and compile; and
  • ultimately improve the health of British Columbia’s salmonid stocks and habitats.

Since 1993, there has been a tremendous amount of community input into the development of the SHIM manual and use of the methods for data collection. Adopting one standardized inventory and mapping method is key to successful land use planning by community groups and local/senior governments and it is essential for restoration and monitoring of British Columbia’s urban fish and wildlife habitats. Recently, the Fraser Valley and Sunshine Coast Regional Districts assisted in writing the deliverables section of the manual. Other sections were written by Langley Environmental Partners and the Institute for Resources and Environment at the University of British Columbia. The Regional Districts received funding through Fisheries and Oceans Canada and also from many other sources including the Real Estate Foundation of BC, Fisheries Renewal, the Urban Salmon Habitat Program, the Georgia Basin Ecosystem Initiative, the Habitat Conservation Trust Fund, the George Metcalf Foundation and directly from local governments. To date, over 30 communities in the Georgia Basin, east coast of Vancouver Island and Central Okanagan have used the methods. Early SHIM mapping methods were adopted from the DFO Pacific Streamkeepers’ system and many local volunteers were employed to fill critical information gaps. Over the next few years the mapping projects expanded to include many local governments on Vancouver Island and the lower mainland. The methodology was further refined and developed through the Urban Salmon Habitat Program in the lower mainland which utilized displaced Fishers through HRDC funding sources. Once compiled, SHIM data can be integrated into local government geographic information systems and used to:

  • help meet municipal government requirements under the Fish Protection Act of BC such as the Stream Side Directives;
  • provide information not previously available to urban planners involved in preparing Neighborhood Plans, Official Community Plans and Regional District Growth Strategies;
  • indicate the extent of riparian vegetation available for wildlife habitat conservation, locally and regionally;
  • assist in determining water course setbacks for development referrals and facilitate Greenway/ESA planning; operational procedures for ditch maintenance in agricultural areas;
  • assist design identify fish presence and potential barriers to fish migration; guide management decisions and priorities for habitat restoration and enhancement;
  • identify areas with channel instability or water quality problems that may require more detailed studies; identify point and non-point sources of pollution;
  • provide a spatially accurate framework and baseline data for future monitoring activities by senior agencies and NGOs (Streamkeepers and Wetlandkeepers).

History of CMN – 2000 to 2010

The vision for the Community Mapping Network originated from a number of community groups, organizations and individuals that collect and map natural resource information. An advisory committee helped build the foundation for the Community Mapping Network and included representatives from the BC Conservation Foundation, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service, Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, Fraser Valley Regional District, Greater Vancouver Regional District, local governments, and community groups. Advisory committee representatives included: Rob Knight, Community Mapping Network Brad Mason, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Habitat and Enhancement Branch Kathleen Moore, Environment Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service Gretchen Harlow, Environment Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service Melinda Coleman, BC Conservation Foundation Trina Nair, Greater Vancouver Regional District Marina Stejpovic, Langley Environmental Partners Shannon Sigurdson, Fraser Valley Regional District Ted VanderGulik, Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries Don Chamberlain, Project Watershed Mike Berry, Inner Coast Natural Resource Centre Stacy Meech, Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries Lesley Douglas, City of Surrey.

Since 2010,  Rob Knight and Brad Mason,  as CMN Directors, are keeping the Community Mapping Network infrastructure running – working with many CMN partners on new projects to expand CMN’s capacity and service to the ENGO community.

How can you assist the CMN?

You can volunteer your skills to help build the CMN by helping partners with inventory projects or you can apply your GIS training to CMN content. You can also make a financial donation to help CMN fund new projects and provide the internet services. If helping CMN is of interest to you please contact us via the web site contact form