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Ministry creates data warehouse online

A tree or two are safer now as the province’s Ministry of Environment moves much of its data onto the Internet.

Kamloops-North Thompson Liberal MLA Terry Lake, who is also minister of environment, introduced the new website, env.gov.bc.ca/soe, in a classroom at Thompson Rivers University on Monday, Nov. 26, holding just one of the 350-page reports the innovation will now replace.

Lake said as the man who oversees the environment in B.C., taking steps to reduce the amount of paper his ministry generates is important.

The website, Environmental Reporting BC, also allows for immediate updates, something the large printed reports could not provide.

The site has many areas, including tabs for sustainability, waste, marine, plants and animals, water, air, climate change and contaminants.

Within each tab are reports, trends, interactive maps and myriad other information, including links to the raw data generating the reports, something TRU dean of science Tom Dickinson said will be invaluable       to students.

For example, one of the tabs Lake took his audience through addressed wildlife management — specifically, the grizzly bear.

Dickinson said years ago, he was teaching a course on wildlife management “and I spent days and days researching grizzlies and, even then, missed a lot of information.

“So, a resource like this, as comprehensive and open as it is, will be great for teaching science.”

The comprehensiveness and access to raw data will also appeal to students, Dickinson said, “who can go in and do their own analyses.”

A press release accompanying the demonstration noted the move to an online site is part of the government’s open-data policy.

A Twitter channel — @EnvReportBC — has also been created to distribute the information.

Reducing the cost of the printed documents alone will save the ministry money, Lake said.

Since 2003, the ministry has published five comprehensive environmental reports and one on a specific topic.

When asked why the announcement was made at TRU, Lake’s communications department said it was likely because of his relationship with the university.

Lake remains on a leave of absence from the institution, where he taught veterinary courses before he was elected mayor in 2005  before his election as an MLA in 2009.

 

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