A sophisticated online mapping tool that allows Maine communities to visualize future landscape scenarios earned the 2014 President’s Research Impact Award for Spencer Meyer, a Maine’s Sustainability Solutions Initiative (SSI) doctoral candidate in the University of Maine’s School of Forest Resources, along with faculty advisers Rob Lilieholm and Chris Cronan.
A member of SSI’s Alternative Futures Team, Meyer led the development of the Maine Futures Community Mapper (MFCM) over four years with team leader Lilieholm, associate professor of forest policy; Cronan, professor of plant biology and ecology, and Michelle Johnson, an SSI doctoral candidate in UMaine’s Ecology and Environmental Sciences Program. The groundbreaking tool will allow town planners, conservationists, developers and the public to better understand and manage community assets — both in terms of conservation and economic development — now and in the future.
MFCM is a web-based tool that helps Mainers identify locations that are most suitable for development, conservation, agriculture or forestry, as well as potential conflicts and compatibilities between land uses. It also helps envision future landscapes under different possible scenarios.
The tool was developed with the belief that Maine’s most important asset is its exceptional quality of place and that communities are at the heart of that asset. The goal is to help ensure a future in which Mainers can count on vibrant communities with vital economic development and a sustainable natural resource base.
Since 2010, the team creating MFCM has involved more than 75 community stakeholders, including policymakers, conservationists, farmers, foresters, business leaders and scientists.