- A method for the identification and assessment of significance of geomorphosites in Vorarlberg (Austria), supported by Geographical Information Systems
- Memorie Descrittive della Carta Geologica d'Italia
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED)
Using 1:10,000 full-area covering analogue geomorphological maps as the basis for our geoconservation work in the State of Vorarlberg (Austria), we define geomorphosites as the smallest coherent landforms which can be delineated, weighted and ranked, based on these maps. In our approach the term ‘geomorphosite’ is not restricted to unique or spectacular geomorphological objects or a group of objects, but it also includes ‘common’ sites in which people, animals and plants live. Therefore, the total landscape is valued on the basis of detailed geomorphological information. This means that not only individual landforms, but also associations or groups of landforms are assessed. A method has been developed for assessing the degree of significance (‘value’) of geomorphosites, with the objective of identifying potential geoconservation sites, within a frame of reference of choice. In a first step landform boundaries are identified, digitized in polygons and color-coded in a Geographical Information System (GIS) using a morphogenetic classification scheme. The degree of significance of the units is rated in a second step with a set of weighting and ranking criteria which include scientific relevance, frequency of occurrence, intactness and vulnerability. The assessment of significance combines expert knowledge and GIS-analyses which results in three ranks of significance of geomorphosites: low, moderate and high. The descriptive factors land use, scenery, status of protection, and additional criteria capture additional information in a third step, which may influence the final ranking for the degree of significance of the geomorphosites. In a fourth step, the ranking leads to the selection of potential geoconservation sites. The results are presented in a GIS and are hyperlinked to additional information, such as site descriptions, landscape photos and other thematic information. The method is illustrated in two case studies.
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