For quantitative landscape analysis on a sugar producing caribbean island
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for quantitative landscape analysis on a sugar producing Caribbean island. Accuracy and quality issues in using historical maps. Niels Chr. Nielsen, post doc. at Center for Tourism, Innovation and Culture, SDU-Esbjerg:. [email protected] +45 6550 1582.

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Accuracy and quality issues in using historical maps

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for quantitative landscape analysis on a sugar producing Caribbean island

Accuracy and quality issues in using historical maps

Niels Chr. Nielsen, post doc. at Center for Tourism, Innovation and Culture, SDU-Esbjerg:

[email protected] +45 6550 1582

Background: Centre for Maritime and Regional Studies (CMRS) at SDU-Esbjerg

  • CMRS studies the interaction of the oceans and human society. With expertise from historians, archaeologists, ethnologists, and social anthropologists, our research explores the interaction between humans and the sea from the earliest times to the Present.

  • Example projects

  • ”Digital Atlas of Cultural Environments in Denmark”,

  • History of Marine Animal Populations (Census of Marine Life),

  • Digital Mobile Nature- and town walks,

  • Studying the controversy about the national park at Salt River Bay, St. Croix

  • Supporting the developement of a national park in the Danish Wadden Sea area

  • Main theme for the ”St. Croix in past and present” Galathea3-project: Sustainability

  •

a bit about Sankt Croix

Land use and land cover

  • Land use:

  • The way in which, and for the purposes of which,

  • human beings employ the land and its resources.

Land cover:

The physical state of the land surface.

from Meyer 1995:

Meyer, W.B. 1995. Past and present land use and land cover in the USA. Consequences 1, 1: 24-33

Driving forces

Social context

Land use and land cover in a wider context

Climate Change


Land Cover #2

(physical maintenance)

Land Cover #1

Land Cover #3




Proximate sources

Land Use #1

Land Use #2

envt. impacts on Driving Forces

From Ojima, Galvin and Turner (1994) and Turner, Skole and Moss (1993)

View from above

St. Croix seen from the International space station (ISS), altitude 400 km, 2001.


NE trade winds, quite constant over the year

First known map of St. Croix

French, Lapointe 1671. NB: SSE up.

The “quarters” of St. Croix.

  • Coastline, borders and towns digitised from Oxholm’s map

Cronenberg and Jægersberg’s map, compiled 1749-50

Drawn at scale appx. 1:30.000

Photograph: Daniel Hopkins, with permission, from

P.L. Oxholm, a key figure in the mapping of St. Croix in the late 18. century

(1753 – 1827, general governor 1815-16)‏

Oxholms “topographic” map of St. Croix

  • Measured/compiled around 1794, printed in Copenhagen 1799, at a scale of app. 1:60.000

From Daniel Hopkins:

Subset of the Cronenberg-Jaegersberg map 1750

  • Note plot numbering

Subset of Oxholm 1794 map

“Legend” from the 1750 C-J map

Digitising to vector format, building data structure:

GCPs and geo-referencing

Digitised data

Subset of Georeferenced C&J map

with digitised features: plantation/plot outlines from Oxholm’s map (bold lines)

Subset of georeferenced Oxholm’s map

  • With plot outlines from the C & J map

Land cover time series:

Cronenberg 1749

..Oxholm 1794

..Shaw 1933

& UVI 1999

Land Cover Statistics from maps

jump to conclusions

Spatial aspect of the “change matrix”

Main soil associations on St. Croix

  • with registered positions of plantation (great) houses 1750, also showing digitized outline of quarters from Oxholm’s map.

jump to conclusions

Castle Nugent, south coast, with GPS registrations

GPS measurements around North Star plantation

Store Salt Panne in Google perspective

Terrain slope on Sankt Croix

from USGS terrain model, measured in per cent

Viewpoints and hiding places on St. Croix 1748

Calculated in GIS from Digital Terrain model, numbers show how many great housesa given point can be seen from (excl. vegetaion)

Product: ”maroon sites”

Maroon Ridge in birds perspective

Exploration at Maroon Ridge 27/3’07


- We can get some of the way following the historical maps approach

  • Time to think integration with other databases (VISHA)

  • Work in progress: still cell-based modelling to be considered. Socio-economic as well as environmental.

- To wonder: are the map data of use, any added value by having the spatial dimension along with the statistical? GIS relevant as integrating reference for historical information at this level?

Thank you very much.

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