Where are the wildest places in Britain

Using GIS to identify wilderness area

Within the confines of a strict geographical definition of wild land it is possible to map wilderness quality using Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and appropriate digital map datasets. Work on GIS-based mapping has shown that it is possible to derive quite sophisticated maps of remoteness (both geographical and perceived) and naturalness (Lesslie, 1994 and Miller, 1995). To meet the objective of mapping the wilderness continuum in Britain it is necessary to evaluate several criteria to consider their different levels of importance.

Here multi-criteria evaluation (MCE) techniques are used in combination with GIS and continuous datasets to identify a wilderness continuum in Britain (Carver, 1996). A range of datasets, some of which are derived from other data, can be used to create a wilderness continuum. These include:

Using MCE techniques with these data sets allows policy makers to decide upon where the wild areas are located. From discussions in the literature around these issues it is clear that a thorough understanding of wilderness ideals in the British context is required in order to generate the theory upon which policy decisions can be built. A new area of interest is in how the general public can contribute to this debate. Over the next few pages you will discover how GIS on the Internet can be used to engage the public in making decisions about wilderness in Britain.

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