Students to Map
Nature Conservancy Properties
and the Alabama chapter of the Nature Conservancy have joined efforts
to further conservation planning, environmental education and stewardship
efforts throughout the state.
Beginning this fall, biology students in Samford's Geographical
Information Systems [GIS] program will create maps of conservation
sites around the state for use by the conservancy.
maps will display topography, natural communities, rare species
populations, soils, geology and other key components of natural
areas. The data will enhance the conservancy’s capacity to gather
and manage key biological and land information to guide conservation
"This is an exciting partnership for Samford and the conservancy,"
said Chris Oberholster, director of Conservation Planning and Stewardship
for the Alabama chapter. "This project will provide Samford
students hands-on training and experience in environmental management,
GIS and conservation planning, while providing the conservancy with
strategic information that is critical to our protection efforts."
The partnership is a win-win situation for both parties, said Samford
biology professor Paul Blanchard, project coordinator.
students will have opportunities to confront real-world ecological
and biological challenges through interaction with the conservancy’s
holdings, which will act as living classrooms," said Blanchard.
Maps will be created for all 16 conservancy preserves in Alabama,
including the high-priority Mobile-Tensaw Delta, Paint Rock River
and Talladega Mountains, which have been deemed critical for protection.
"The first focus will be the conservancy’s properties in the
Little Cahaba River area. The project will involve students in Samford's
field zoology, plant taxonomy, biological sciences and GIS environmental