Abstract Maps are important tools in natural resource management. Often, there may be multiple maps that represent the same resource, which have been constructed using very different philosophies and methods, at different scales, for different dates and areas. In such cases, conservation planners and other natural resource managers are faced with a choice of map that will best serve their decision making. However, the best available information for a given purpose is often a combination of data from a number of different source maps. In this paper we present a protocol for assessing and integrating multiple maps of vegetation for a particular area of interest. The protocol commences with a consideration of management or policy context and technical issues to determine the basic specifications for the map. It then defines and assesses a set of measurable attributes, representing the concepts of theme, accuracy, precision and currency, for all candidate maps available for compilation. The resulting ranks for accuracy, precision and currency are used to compute a suitability index, which is used to assemble a composite map from the most suitable candidate maps. The final step in the protocol is to display spatial patterns in thematic consistency, accuracy, precision and currency for the composite map. We demonstrate the application of the protocol by constructing a map that discriminates structurally intact native vegetation from cleared land for the whole of New South Wales, south‐eastern Australia. The source data include 46 maps that cover various parts of the region at various scales and which were made at different dates using different methods. The protocol is an explicit and systematic method to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of alternative data sets. It implements spatial integration in a way that promotes overall accuracy, precision and currency of map data. It also promotes transparent reporting of map limitations, to help map users accommodate risks of map errors in their decision making, and to inform priorities for future survey and mapping.
Austral Ecology – Wiley
Published: Sep 1, 2008
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