Oliver Bender,Niki Evelpidou, Alenka Krek and Andreas Vassilopoulos (eds.): Geoinformation Technologies for Geocultural Landscapes: European Perspectives. London 2009. 291 pp.

The 291 page book is the result of the work of an international and interdisciplinary working group. The researchers involved have professional backgrounds such as geography, GIS, remote sensing, photogrammetry, urban/regional/environmental planning, cartography and archaeology.

The book targets a wide range of potential readers, but focuses in particular on "scholars, students, planners, policy makers involved in the protection of cultural and natural heritage" (p. IX). The contents and the didactical approach of this book were selected carefully to address this diverse target group in the most appropriate way.

The book consists of 14 separate articles, written by a total of 30 different authors. The papers are grouped into one comprehensive introduction paper and four technical parts, each consisting of three or four articles. The first part focuses on data capturing, the second on data preparation, the third on data analysis and interpretation. The fourth and last part presents three different case studies. The length of the articles varies between 12 and 32 pages, all articles follow (largely) a common structure. The book includes a multitude of figures, tables, maps etc., but unluckily it neither contains an index of figures and tables, nor a keyword index. Probably to keep the printing costs low, all figures are in black and white (greytone) images only. This somewhat limits the illustrative effect of several figures, but most images seem to be optimised carefully for black and and white printing, and hence in most cases the lack of colour does not pose a crucial disadvantage.

Scientific books edited by several persons and containing articles from numerous authors are often somewhat disappointing. Even if the individual papers are interesting, they frequently do not form a convincing ensemble, because the included papers duplicate rather than complement contents and because the articles are written in different styles. Hence, such books frequently turn out to be merely unrelated 'collections' of papers which happen to address a (more or less) common overall topic.

This book, however, is a good example of how to do such a job properly! A lot of effort was put into fine-tuning the articles so that they complement each other with a minimum of duplication. Likewise important, the 14 papers show a similar 'level' and style of writing and are also well-understandable for those who are not Geoinformation specialists. The effort made to compile an 'easy to read' book is also visible by frequent cross-referencing between the 14 articles and short glossary-like explanations of important technical terms and acronyms. The cross-references and glossary entries are given in a separate column at the edge of the pages, making it easy and convenient for the reader to find the desired information on the respective issue of interest. Having made all this effort to assist the reader to find his way through the book, it is a bit incomprehensible that - as mentioned above - the book does not include figure, table and keyword indices. Especially for students and lecturers such indices, would have added considerable practical value.

Most of the papers in the book do not present (and do not intend to do so) the results of 'cutting-edge' research! Most of the contents presented are common knowledge within the various disciplines contributing their know-how to this book! The idea of this book is rather to summarise the most important technologies for landscape research in a well-structured and well-readable manner and to concentrate this know-how into one single volume. Obviously the second objective was to show how these technologies can be arranged to complement each other in order to address various landscape-related research questions/tasks. To achieve these two objectives, the book first describes the various technologies separately (Parts I, II and III) before case studies illustrate how to combine the various technologies (Part IV).

The introduction article is one of the highlights of this book. It discusses and defines important key terms and gives an excellent overview about landscape research and the role of geoinformation technologies within and for this field of research. The 'primary data capturing' section (Part I), describes the use of 'mobile GIS' and GPS, the benefits of aerial photos and the role of photogrammetry in data preparation as well as the use of satellite remote sensing. A fourth article addresses a somewhat more specialised topic, the use of airborne laser scanning (ALS, also known as LIDAR (light detection and ranging)).

The second part then focuses on the problems of data preparation and integration, such as dealing with geometric referencing problems and the integration of historical maps into a GIS data base. One of the papers describes in detail the different options of 3D data. The third part addresses the problems, tasks and related procedures and techniques of the analysis and interpretation stage, such as the use of geostatistics, spatial interpolation techniques and measuring terrain features. A third paper of this section describes how landscape metrics can be used to quantify landscape structure characteristics such as 'landscape diversity' or 'landscape dissection'.

The third part of the book describes, illustrates and evaluates the combined use of various geoinformation technologies, using case studies from Greece, Spain and Austria/Hungary respectively. Various technologies described separately in the previous parts are used here to address specific research questions.

Overall Evaluation
As usual in such a collection of papers from numerous authors, the contributions vary to some extent with respect to the content quality, the comprehensibility of the text, the language (and English) quality and, finally, their potential for a 'hands on' transfer of the described methods and techniques to solve own research problems! All in all, however, this is an excellent, carefully edited book which will be useful for a great variety of readers and purposes. It can be used for self-study as well as for education and training purposes. It will also be of great value as a 'starting point' for solving own research problems. The well-selected topics of the papers complement each other and are written in a well-understandable manner, which summarises the issues without going too much into theory or technical nitty-gritty detail. If and where one is required to 'dig deeper', the extensive list of references gives the reader easy access to additional detailed information. The book closes a gap in this particular field and is a very valuable complement of the already existing literature. It should be part of every well-sorted GIS/Remote Sensing and Landscape Research library.
Thomas Christiansen

Quelle: Erdkunde, 64. Jahrgang, 2010, Heft 4


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