MD Ranchland Community Values Mapping


In the imaginations of people who have never been to Alberta, they envision the landscape of the Municipal District of Ranchland. It is the mythical Alberta, in real life: nearly 2,500 square kilometres of prairie rangeland, rolling foothills, and rugged, snow-capped mountains. It comprises the headwaters of the Oldman and part of the Crowsnest River - major tributaries of the South Saskatchewan drainage. It contains few roads and no urban settlements and houses fewer than 100 residents. By ranching here, many families are continuing traditions that go back several generations. Nearly 75% of the MD is Crown Land, managed by the Province of Alberta for agricultural use, resource extraction, recreation, and various degrees of environmental protection.


In 2007, MD Ranchland approached the Miistakis Institute with a deceptively simple question: “How do we communicate the things we value the most?” The MD Council and residents know that they live in a special place. But when considering proposals for development and the benefits promised by proponents, they had no way to express these values in a similar context, or to assess the extent to which these values might be compromised.

To address this shortcoming, Miistakis developed a suite of tools aimed at improving the MD's ability to articulate community and conservation values. The first was a Custom Mapping Application that allows the MD to easily make maps showing meaningful features of the landscape. Click on the image below to view the Users' Guide for the Mapping Tool, completed in June 2009:


The second was a Community Values Mapping Project. Facilitated workshops were held at Chain Lakes, in which attendees were asked to express their values. Miistakis subsequently built spatial data layers to reflect community values, based on the outcomes of the workshop and the best available GIS data. Click on the image below to view the Community Values Mapping Project Final Report, completed in September 2012:


This work has attracted interest from other conservation initiatives in southwestern Alberta and elsewhere. It demonstrates a new approach to capturing "intangibles" like community values, and incorporating these into local and regional land use planning. This enables social values to be considered on par with more traditional metrics of development (revenue, new infrastructure, job creation, etc.).

Miistakis Institute works on many different types of projects which have been organized into eight research areas. By expanding on the symbols below you may view projects in that research area, as well as one that identifies projects initiated by Miistakis.

Transportation Ecology

GIS for Conservation

Ecosystem Services

Sustainable Landscapes and Communities

Private Land Conservation

Citizen Science for Conservation

Wildlife Management

Market-Based Instruments

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