Friday, July 15, 2022

How to make map of study area or area of interest

 Most often it is a good idea to show your readers where your project/research site is located. This is often called map of "study area" or "area of study" or "area of interest".

Whatever it is called, it is that map that usually comes in the introductory part of your report that introduces where your research area is geographically located.

Let's see how we can make one.

Assuming we are conducting a research work in a particular LGA within Niger state of Nigeria, then we need to show our readers where the study area is using a map. The general process will involve the following steps:-

  1.  Source for GIS data layer
  2.  Filter data layer using "Select by location"
  3.  Cartographic styling
  4.  Export map for use in written report
Lets take a look at each step in details.

Source for GIS data layer

There are several places to get GIS data including the following online sources: DIVA-GIS, GADM, NaturalEarth, OpenStreetMap etc

Better still you could get your GIS data layers from the GIS department where your study area is located. Here I have obtained the following layers to prepare my area of study map:-

  • Administrative boundary of Nigeria, Niger state and the LGAs. 
  • The Road layer
  • The River and Water bodies layer

Filter data layer

Here you need to cleanup the dataset if it contains data from outside your study area. Just focus on your area of study on the map. One way to do this is by using the 'filter' function in QGIS or use "Select by location" to select just your area of interest.

Cartographic styling

All your map layer should be styled using the appropriate cartographic symbols. For example roads should be styled to look like roads not just normal lines.

Export map for use in written report

You can export the final map as an image or pdf file to be included in your report writing.

Using base maps

You can add background maps from Google to add more context to the map as seen below...

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