A three-dimensional illustration of the unceded Mowachaht-Muchalaht territory’s topography near the central-west coast of Vancouver Island is shown in digital twinning software called TimberOps in this handout image. A First Nation on Vancouver Island is the first in Canada to use digital twinning software to improve mapping and resource management across its territory, says the Victoria-based creator of the platform that looks almost like a video game. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, LlamaZOO

B.C. First Nation adopts ‘digital twinning’ software to better manage territory

Software allows users to visualize what a mountain might look like if the trees on its slopes were logged

A First Nation on Vancouver Island is the first in Canada to use digital twinning software to improve mapping and resource management across its territory, says the Victoria-based creator of the platform that looks almost like a video game.

TimberOps is the software that functions as the “digital twin” of more than 350,000 hectares of unceded Mowachaht-Muchalaht territory near the west coast of Vancouver Island, said Charles Lavigne, CEO of the LlamaZOO, the software’s creator.

“With this digital twin, you can effectively fly down to the ground floor and see the individual trees and fly up into the sky and see the rivers and the roads and the communities,” he said.

It’s a three-dimensional illustration of the territory’s topography, including hundreds of rivers and lakes, as well as mountains, roads, trails and buildings, and it integrates those features with both cultural knowledge and data from timber operations over the last century.

“It kind of looks and feels like a video game, but it’s a very complex data analysis system and application,” said Lavigne, whose expertise stems from the gaming industry.

There are about 76,000 timber cut blocks and nearly 87 million trees represented, he said, noting further layers of data could be added in the future, such as fish stocks and water-flow monitoring.

By bringing together different file formats and types of data that are not normally so accessible, TimberOps creates continuity for different stakeholders when the nation is negotiating with government officials or resource extraction companies, Lavigne said.

ALSO READ: B.C.’s logging industry pleads for certainty as push away from old-growth continues

Dorothy Hunt, lands manager for the Mowachaht-Muchalaht First Nation, said TimberOps will help the nation identify “absolute no-go zones” where industrial activity is not welcome.

That could include the locations of old villages and archaeological sites, areas for fishing and gathering berries and cedar, as well as trees modified for cultural purposes, all of which were recorded in the nation’s traditional land use assessment and integrated into the software, she said.

In other locations, there may be fewer alarm bells over resource development, she added, and the software also helps identify those areas.

TimberOps will also help the nation’s leadership preserve certain areas and visual standards while fielding requests from logging companies, Hunt said.

“The nation is really striving to build an economy around tourism, and they kind of clash when you think you’re going to be bringing your guests down an inlet and on both sides of the inlet the mountains have been logged.”

She noted the software allows users to visualize what a mountain might look like if the trees on its slopes were logged or kept growing, showing the trees’ height at different points in time.

It will also save the nation’s own logging company time and money, said Hunt, as it offers detailed, real-time information about different parcels of land from a distance, in contrast to costly site visits.

Mowachaht-Muchalaht is the first nation in Canada to adopt digital twinning technology, said Lavigne, adding the company’s goal is to ensure the software is as cost efficient as possible.

“We think this is applicable all across Canada and could potentially bridge other First Nations and other communities around the world with their stakeholders,” he said.

Hunt echoed Lavigne’s sentiments, saying the software has the power to change how First Nations make crucial decisions about their territories.

ALSO READ:

— By Brenna Owen in Vancouver.

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Indigenous

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Nicole Charlwood represents the Green Party in the campaign for Nelson-Creston. Photo submitted
Nicole Charlwood represents the Green Party in the campaign for Nelson-Creston. Photo submitted
Election 2020: Nicole Charlwood

The first of four interviews with the Nelson-Creston candidates

Ski touring operators are changing how they plan to operate due to the pandemic. Photo: Curtis Cunningham photo
With winter looming, West Kootenay ski tour operators say they’ve adapted

COVID-19 has meant businesses are changing how the upcoming season will run

The crash caused a pole to be dragged down across the highway. File photo
The crash caused a pole to be dragged down across the highway. File photo
RCMP looking for driver who walked away from accident on Highway 3A

The crash dragged down a power pole across the highway

Rob Louie has formed a non-profit organization he says will assist band members in legal disputes with their councils. Photo: Submitted
UPDATED: Indigenous legal organization created to help band members keep councils accountable

Rob Louie has created Band Members Alliance and Advocacy Association of Canada

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Police confirm human remains were found in a recycling bin in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson visits a North Vancouver daycare to announce his party’s election promises for child care, Oct. 9, 2020. (B.C. Liberal Party video)
B.C. parties pitch costly child care programs in pandemic

B.C. Liberals say they’ll deliver on NDP’s $10-a-day promise for lower-income families

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A B.C. man decided to create a website to help people find family doctors accepting patients. Because Victoria is considered high-demand, clinic openings can’t be posted publicly. (Unsplash)
Vancouver Island man starts website that connects B.C. residents with doctors

Nanaimo man started project to help people find family physicians accepting patients

Voting station at Tzeachten Hall in the riding of Chilliwack-Kent on the first day of advance voting in the provincial election on Oct. 15, 2020. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. VOTES 2020: 380,000 British Columbians head to polls in first 4 days of advance voting

Some of highest voter turnout so far has been seen on Vancouver Island and in Shuswap

Fort St. John councillor Trevor Bolin (B.C. Conservative Party)
BC Conservatives leader fights back after BC Liberals leak 2018 workplace harassment case

Sexual harassment case was connected to employee being terminated, WorkSafeBC found

Most Read