Ann Maclean

Ann Maclean
"The practical application of knowledge is what moves us forward."


  • Professor Emerita
  • PhD, Environmental Remote Sensing/Forestry, University of Wisconsin
  • MS, Environmental Remote Sensing, University of Wisconsin
  • MS, Forestry, University of Wisconsin
  • BS, Forestry, Michigan Technological University

The Use of Spatial Information in Today's World

The use of remote sensing and geographic information system (GIS) technologies allows us, as resource managers, to make timely, efficient and cost-effective decisions. Additionally, we can conduct unique and otherwise infeasible, analytic tasks. Whether it is looking backward and trying to reconstruct historical vegetation landscapes or looking forward to determine where and how much woody biomass can be grown for ethanol production, the use of remote sensing and GIS techniques are critical components of our decision making process.

Remote sensing and GIS have long been used by natural resource managers in land use planning, natural hazard assessment, wildlife habitat mapping, and timber management. In recent years, these technologies have been utilized in crime analysis, emergency response planning, land records management, siting of retail stores, precision farming and infrastructure upgrading. The use of these technologies is truly interdisciplinary, and can no be considered tools for specialists. With the development of user-friendly interfaces, powerful and affordable computer hardware and software, and widespread distribution of digital data all resource managers now have access to broad array of spatial analysis tools.

However, it is important to remember that these technologies are more than simply hardware and software. It is also about people. As such, they do not lend themselves to traditional classroom teaching alone. Only by a combination of approaches can critical components, such as principles, technical issues, practice, management, ethics and accountability be learned. It is the practical application of knowledge that promotes the wise use of our natural resources.

Areas of Expertise

  • Remote sensing
  • Digital image processing
  • Geographic information systems
  • Spatial modeling