Student map and poster competition

Slivers of an Ancient Forest

By Jake Steinberg, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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I produced this capstone to my Intro to Cartography class to communicate about old growth forests in the Upper Midwest. Inspiration came on a trek through Cathedral Pines, an ancient grove of hemlocks in northern Wisconsin that only stands today because the local lumber magnate’s wife held her Bible study there. Subsequent research revealed a compelling narrative thread: Due to exhaustive clear-cutting in the Upper Midwest, behind each stand of surviving old growth forest is a similarly salient story. Next, I sought a fresh but familiar design that evoked the sylvan subject matter. I stylized my tree age data to mimic tree stumps. Just as trees grow in circumference as they accumulate rings, so too do the symbols. To convey concepts like forest succession and tree taxa, I drew vibrant illustrations for the legend. By weaving natural cues viewers are poised to recognize with human stories they can relate with, the map catches the eye while educating about present-day issues.