Historic forest change: New approaches to land use land cover

Document Type

Conference Paper


Using historic maps as significant data in environment and urban planning has provided key details of land practices and planning of the past. (Baily, 2007; Eremiasova and Skokanova, 2009; Gasperi, 2007; Grosso, 2009) While there has been growing research into the use and accuracy of historic maps, there has been little research into how to incorporate real data from historic maps into modern land cover land use change analysis. Using historic maps to create a time series of changes allows for research into the visualization and quantification landscapes through time. In this study, the land cover change of the surrounding Uxeau Commune of Burgundy France, a site rich in archaeology and history, is explored through a time series created from historic maps, aerial photos, and recent topographic maps. Covering 163 years, this time series is constructed to measure the change in forest pattern land change of forest to non-forest by using GIS methods of georeferencing, digitizing, as well as Intensity analysis, as a platform to investigate the land use/ land cover change found in the region from 1840-2003. Consideration into preprocessing of data layers to enable comparison must be followed. This in turn raises questions of methodology to best extract the data of a historic map. As such, this study investigates the conversion of historic attributes and features to modern counterparts, building on the existing research of georeferencing, digitalization and eventual extraction of historic maps for further analyze. Following these steps, attention is turned to how best analyze the changing landscape patterns. Intensity analysis, developed by S.Z. Aldwaik and Robert Pontius, is used to understand the interval change between forest loss, gain and persistence annually throughout the study site. The integration of historic and modern data to create the observed pattern of land cover change could aid in subsequent studies on extended temporal land studies. As it questions the validity of historic map use in current day studies, it also provides a methodology that integrates historic data and modern data through the combination of historic maps and land cover data using freely available software programs. With an extended time series available provided by historic maps we are able distinguish the change in land cover through the time span, leading to future research in assessing the drivers of anthropogenic and natural processes of land cover.

Publication Title

CAA2014: 21st Century Archaeology: Concepts, Methods and Tools

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France, GIS, historic data