The Last Wild Race

Katherine Panek and Jason Blair share how Esri maps were used in the Patagonian Expedition Race.

Jul 23rd, 2012

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00:01Every February, teams from around the globe travel to Chilean Patagonia to participate in an adventure at the end of the world.

00:08My name is Katherine Panek...

00:10...and I'm Jason Blair...

00:11...and last year we had the pleasure of working with NOMADAS International Group, alias NIGSA...

00:16...to create a set of maps for the Patagonian Expedition Race, often referred to as the Last Wild Race.

00:23Over the course of 10 days, teams of four from 20 different countries relied on map and compass in order to survive an expedition...

00:30...traveling south from the ancient port town of Punta Arenas across the Strait of Magellan through the endless peat bogs...

00:36...virgin forest, and unexplored mountain ranges of Tierra del Fuego, and finally to the legendary Beagle Channel...

00:43...where racers kayaked to the base of the imposing Pio Glacier.

00:46The harsh beauty of this land and the spirit of the race serve as driving forces to conserve Patagonia.

00:52The 2012 race was special for two reasons; one, because it was the race's tenth anniversary...

00:57...and two, because Esri partnered with NIGSA, becoming the event's official map and GIS provider.

01:04This partnership greatly increased our access to quality mapping products, allowing us to move beyond maps...

01:09...originally created from satellite imagery to the topographically accurate maps used in this year's race.

01:16However, even with Arc 10, creating the maps in the Patagonia proved a difficult task due to the remarkably limited...

01:22...or nonexistent regional data.

01:24Patagonia's backcountry is notorious for its lack of topographic maps, few of which exist at a scale larger than 1 to 100,000...

01:31...and data is traded from hand to hand rather than easily accessible in an online database.

01:36Something a university professor always reiterated to me is that understanding precedes action.

01:42We only conserve what we love, we only love what we understand, and we only understand what we know.

01:50In this vein, allowing the global community to explore Patagonia is a key way to gain more support for its conservation.

01:58Developing new and more accurate maps allows more people to experience remote areas and feel inspired to protect them...

02:05...and also effectively opens up access for ecotourism and sustainable development.

02:10Coinciding with the efforts of organizing an international event, NIGSA took on a conservation and trail-building project...

02:16...in the newly opened, 1,000-square-mile Karukinka Natural Park in Tierra del Fuego.

02:22This project was carried out by NIGSA volunteers on behalf of the Wildlife Conservation Society...

02:27...and opens up the first trekking section of the park for research and ecotourism.

02:32Here, you see an overview map of the conservation project.

02:36In the absence of commonly accepted names for many of the features in this area, major values are simply labeled numerically...

02:42...in order for the trail-building team to communicate their position and track progress with the main office via satellite telephone.

02:49These remain the first and only topographic maps existing at a navigational scale for this region.

02:54As the trail system in the park expands, they will be updated, allowing increased access to ecotourists, recreational enthusiasts...

03:00...and environmental scientists.

03:02Currently, the Chilean military is in the process of constructing a road that will closely follow a section of the Patagonian Expedition Race...

03:10...that passed through the Cordillera Darwin, seen in this map behind us.

03:14While many conservationists oppose this idea, maps of the area, including ours, and the expertise of leaders such as NIGSA founder...

03:22...and Patagonia guru Stjepan Pavicic, can help decision makers minimize the impacts of construction projects...

03:29...on ecologically sensitive areas.

03:33It's difficult to sum up the impact of the Patagonian Expedition Race on all those involved...

03:37...so we can really only speak for ourselves.

03:39Recently out of university, we found ourselves responsible for cartography that must safely lead racers, staff members...

03:45...and press attendees through remote and uncharted territory.

03:49In a place where poor maps could have serious consequences, this seemed an enormous responsibility.

03:54Working hard to meet the expectations and needs of the NIGSA crew, we spent hours on what we dubbed the Cartography Cave.

04:00There, we used what we had, created what we could, and came up with creative solutions to meet the difference.

04:08Holding the finished maps in our hands, hearing the calls of the first team to arrive at a race checkpoint...

04:14...the high spirit of the staff, seeing the sky alight with stars above a glacial mountain lake, these things are our Patagonia.

04:25We are grateful for the opportunity to develop the maps for such a remarkable event...

04:30...and proud to witness the ability of our passion for GIS to promote the conservation of the last wild places on earth.

04:38May they exist for a long time to come. Thank you. Thank you.

Copyright 2014 Esri
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