The BC Tomorrow land-use simulator uses state of the art spatial mapping software and authentic modeling data to give users the ability to view land-use relationships and understand the cumulative effects of multiple overlapping human land uses with natural forces like wildfire and climate change. Users first see historical change in their selected watersheds and then set targets for various socio-economic and environmental values. From there, they apply their knowledge and creativity to work through a scenario-planning approach and create a range of future land-use scenarios to try and achieve their goal. Their results and solutions can be shared with peers, teachers, family members or the community at large through the online platform.
The first version of the simulator is in the late stages of development and much of the development has been facilitated by in-kind contributions of professional services and technical expertise. The simulator is available for viewing and testing on a beta test site. Funding is required to further its development and refinement and to make it fully available for use on our website. We have secured a significant three-year funding commitment to complete the simulator, but the commitment requires matching funds.
To complement the simulator a set of instructional videos will be integrated into the online platform. Each video will be filled with relevant and current British Columbia facts. These videos will provide background on human land-use (e.g. forestry, settlement), natural disturbance (e.g. wildfire, climate change), and watershed dynamics and how these forces change landscapes. Other videos show how key measures respond to these changes. Environmental values such as natural landscapes, fish habitat, and water quality. Socio-economic measures like population, timber production, and water use. These videos are intended to fit with current BC curriculum and may be used to support learning in various subjects and at various grade levels. To date, twelve videos, varying in length from 5-10 minutes, are complete and available for use, another 2 are in the late planning stage.
The final component of this educational resource is field studies and observations. Student users will collect, track and share land-use observations to support learning while also accessing report templates to analyze findings on the online simulator platform. Field trip ideas, links to local and regional experts and other hands on supportive tools will be added to enhance student understanding and provide educators with meaningful real-world ideas to link curriculum.
Presentations continue to be made at professional development conferences and symposiums, at colleges, universities and at community educator events to show our project’s impacts and how it can be used. These presentations have been extremely well-received, and much excitement has been built amongst BC educators. In these presentations we have provided links to our website and social media sites.
Upon completion of the first version of the simulator, an official launch will be hosted at Salmon Arm Secondary in British Columbia. Students, teachers, the media, partners, sponsors and other stakeholders, and all those involved in the development of this project will be invited to attend. Our aim is to host an official launch early in 2020. As BC Tomorrow grows these types of events will be continuous and ongoing and we also hope to support student-directed conferences on the topic of sustainable land use.