Orienteers practice their sport in forests, bushveld, communal parks and other outdoor environments in which they navigate their way around a 2 – 20 km course (depending on age, gender and type of event), depicted on a map. This means that the orienteering equivalent of the football or rugby stadium, indoor sports hall, cricket pitch or hockey field is a forest, an area of bushveld, parkland, or even complex urban environments.
It is also noted that changes to areas that have already been mapped occur frequently, through forest felling, vegetation growth, construction of buildings, roads and tracks etc. Occasionally, maps become totally obsolete, when for instance ownership changes or areas are committed to other uses. The regular updating of existing maps and making of new ones is therefore an ongoing task.
The making of a map, without which one cannot contemplate orienteering, necessitates many hours of work, including the identification of suitable areas, applying for and obtaining landowners’ permission, the identification and acquisition of aerial photographs, in the field surveying, computer cartography and printing arrangements. The making of maps is therefore both an expensive and time-consuming activity.
The SAOF aims to develop a portfolio of strategic maps. A strategic map is one that can initially be used to hold a National championship and can subsequently be used as high performance training location for our national orienteering squads. In addition we aim to make these venues available to elite international orienteers who use South Africa as a winter training destination. This will give our local national squad members opportunities to learn from some of the world’s top orienteers.
South Africa is a small orienteering nation with a current requirement of a relatively small number of orienteering maps. This requirement for orienteering maps is not big enough to support professional orienteering Mappers. We do, however, still need experienced local Mappers, who as a minimum can verify the quality of our strategic maps. To this end we aim to explore opportunities to learn from good-quality, international mappers.
In addition to the high-end maps required for our strategic maps, there is also a need to develop local mappers capable of fulfilling maps to help the SAOF meet its growth objectives. To this end we aim to offer introductory mapping courses that will equip participants with the necessary skills to make maps of simple school grounds.