EEO-AGI Scotland Seminar Review : Dr Steve Carver : 18th Oct

This week’s seminar topic was “Mapping Scotland’s Wild Land… from idea to policy in 7 years,” presented by Dr Steve Carver from the University of Leeds. Steve was inspired by the work of early wilderness mappers to use GIS to map wilderness in Britain. The presentation began with an introduction to wilderness mapping in Scotland which, in a country with
a developed wild land policy, has been ongoing longer than most European countries.

A challenge in mapping wild lands is that it is impossible to come up with a universal definition of wilderness. The 2002 Scottish Natural Heritage Policy Document lists attributes of wild land which relate to physical features that can be mapped, together comprising a definition for wilderness. To map wild lands in national parks, Steve integrated layers with characteristics such as naturalness, absence of human artefacts, impacts of wind energy, rugged terrain, and remoteness. With the aid of a public perception survey, the features were appropriately classified and weighted to form an overall wilderness map. Success in this process led to its adaptation into wilderness maps for larger regions, across Europe.

The presentation concluded with some thoughts on future directions, including additional viewshed modelling, catchment based models, and cultural aspects of wilderness mapping. Several audience questions were discussed on topics of coastal modelling, land ownership issues, species habitat, and the political dangers possible with such mapping, leaving us with a reminder of the care that must be taken when producing new maps.

— Ryland Karlovich
(MSc in GIS at University of Edinburgh)

Further information on the EEO-AGI Scotland Seminar Series

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