Training Kit on Participatory Spatial Information Management and Communication. CTA/IFAD

Global Glossary

Absolute location: An absolute location is a point on the Earth’s surface expressed by a coordinate system such as latitude and longitude or Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM).

Action verb: An action verb is a verb that provides focus on the trainee’s learning outcome. Since the learner’s post training performance should be observable and measurable, the verb chosen for the outcome statement should be an action verb which results in overt behaviour that can be observed and measured. (source: American Association of Libraries

Active listening: Active listening reflects back to what the speaker has just said. It helps the speaker feel more understood and listened to, and usually encourages them to continue talking. Active listening is also called “paraphrasing” or “summarizing”.

Advocacy: Advocacy is the pursuit of influencing outcomes — including public policy and resource allocation decisions within political, economic and social systems and institutions — that directly affect people’s current lives. (source: Cohen, 2001 Cohen, D., R. de la Vega, G. Watson. 2001. Advocacy for Social Justice, Kumarian Press Inc., Bloomfield, CT.

Aerial images: Remote-sensing photographs taken from an airplane. (source: Wikipedia

Alignment effect: Humans tend to relate to maps better if they are aligned with the environment they represent. A correct alignment (or orientation) allows for maps (and 3D models) to be interpreted more rapidly and accurately. (source: Adapted from Wilson P.N.; Wildbur D.J. 2004. First-perspective alignment effects in a computer-simulated environment. British Journal of Psychology, Volume 95, Number 2, May 2004 , pp. 197-217(21). Levine, Marvin. 1982. You-Are-Here Maps. Environment and Behaviour, Vol. 14, No. 2, 221-237).

Almanac: An almanac is a continuously updated collection of data that a GPS receiver uses to determine the positions of the GPS satellites when it calculates coordinates. (source: Flavelle, Alix. 2002. Mapping Our Land. Lone Pine Foundation, Edmonton, Canada)

Air photographs or aerial photographs: Remote-sensing photographs taken from an airplane.

Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is an organisational development process that engages individuals within an organisational system in its renewal, change and focused performance. AI is a particular way of asking questions and envisioning the future that fosters positive relationships and builds on the basic goodness in a person, a situation or an organisation. Note that instead of starting with the LFA / ZOPP assumption (see below) of a negative basic condition to be fixed, AI starts by looking at the positive situation which can be enhanced. (source

Area: An area (or polygon) is a feature on the map which covers a surface area and is not restricted to a single point. This is typically a vegetation zone, a type of soil or rock face.

Air photographs or aerial photographs: Aerial photographs are remote-sensing photographs taken from an airplane.

Asset allocation mapping (AAM): this enables communities to make informed decisions over the allocation of their territorial assets. To do this, they need not only to arrive at their own evaluations of these assets but also to understand the multiple values assigned to their assets by others to map the ways in which assets are perceived, evaluated, imagined by an unfamiliar and mutating array of external interests (source: Peter Poole).

Assessment tools: This template should be used for both pre- and post-workshop skills assessment instruments. Pre-workshop skills tests can be developed to check that trainees meet any workshop prerequisites and to establish a benchmark status of knowledge and skills; post-workshop assessments can be developed to test whether learning objectives have been achieved.

ASTER: advanced spaceborne thermal emission and reflection radiometer.

Attitudes: Assumed or learned perspectives. Attitudes are difficult to measure, yet are often indicated by behaviour. Although not easily changed, attitudes may change after being exposed to new conditions, experiences or information (source: field tools @ participation

Attribute data: A characteristic of a geographic feature described in numbers or text (source: Flavelle, Alix. 2002. Mapping Our Land. Lone Pine Foundation, Edmonton, Canada).

Attribute table: A table consisting of a series of rows and columns containing information about spatial features contained within the GIS. (source: Mimi Hu

Azimuth: The azimuth is the angle (often in degrees) that a certain direction (e.g. to a landmark) is from the north meridian at a certain place. (source: Flavelle, Alix. 2002. Mapping Our Land. Lone Pine Foundation, Edmonton, Canada).

Band: Mostly short for ‘wavelength band’, which stands for a limited range of the EM spectrum. A sensor is sensitive to certain ‘spectral bands’; see also Spectral band. Atmospheric absorption is characterized by ‘absorption bands’. The term ‘band’ is also frequently used to indicate one of the digital images of a multi-band image, thus the data recorded by one of the channel of a multispectral sensor; e.g., band 3 of Landsat image, or the green band of a Spot image.

Base map: A base map is a map that contains geographical reference information on which attribute data may be plotted to make thematic maps . (source: Flavelle, Alix. 2002. Mapping Our Land. Lone Pine Foundation, Edmonton, Canada).

Bearing: A bearing is a directional measurement taken by an observer, or the measured angle (often in degrees) between the north meridian and the line joining the observer and the object. Directions or azimuths are bearings.. (source: Flavelle, Alix. 2002. Mapping Our Land. Lone Pine Foundation, Edmonton, Canada).

Behaviours: Manner of conducting oneself. Behaviours are reactions to a situation, group, or person. Behaviours may be affected by attitudes which in turn may be affected by behaviours. Group behaviours can be influenced by individual behaviours.

Beneficiary group A beneficiary group consists of the people who will experience the benefits and advantages from achieving the project purpose. They are not necessarily involved in the implementation of the project, which is carried out by the target group. The target group and the beneficiary group may overlap. (source: Nigel Crawhall).

Beliefs: A state or habit of mind in which trust or confidence is placed in some person or thing (source: Merriam-Webster online dictionary).

Belmont Report: A summary of basic ethical research principles developed partly in response to the “Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Black Man”, in which poor and mostly illiterate African Americans were studied to observe the natural progression of the disease if left untreated. (See also Nuremburg Code).

Beneficence: One of the three requirements of ethical research (see Belmont Report). Beneficence means to the maximize possible benefits and minimize possible harms to participants in research.

Blog: A web site, usually maintained by an individual, with chronologic entries of commentary, news, events, RSS and other materials (e.g. graphic, video).

Cartography: The art or science of making maps. (source: Flavelle, Alix. 2002. Mapping Our Land. Lone Pine Foundation, Edmonton, Canada).

Clinometer: A device for measuring slope angles. (source: Flavelle, Alix. 2002. Mapping Our Land. Lone Pine Foundation, Edmonton, Canada).

Code: In the context of mapping, the code is the visual symbol system associated with a geographic feature. For example, a river (a line) will be represented by a dark blue yarn. The yarn is used on the model, and the legend provides the explanation to the meaning of the code. In this case the code representation is dark blue yarn, and the meaning is ‘primary river’

Cognitive map: a term introduced in the 30s by pioneer learning researcher, Edward Tolman, to describe what rats must have in their minds to successfully navigate mazes when routes are blocked or explored from different points. Although learning is from traversing routes, mental representations appear to integrate route experience into survey or overview knowledge. The term has been extended to humans to mean a schematic mental representation of the geographic world, usually the network of paths and nodes that enable navigation. The nature, coherence, flexibility, perspective, and accuracy of these representations are continuing topics of research.

Communication strategy: A communication strategy is a well-planned series of actions aimed at achieving certain objectives through the use of communication methods, techniques and approaches. (source: FAO,

Community: There are different kinds of communities. A community can be a group of people that live in a common location. A community can be a group of people that have a shared set of values, norms, and rules. A community can also be defined as a group of people that regularly communicate and interact with one another. (source: Agrawal and Gibson 1999).

Community mapping: Community maps often represent a socially or culturally distinct understanding of landscape and include information that is excluded from mainstream maps, which usually represent the views of the dominant sectors of society. This style of map can therefore pose alternatives to the languages and images of the existing power structures. Community maps often differ considerably from mainstream maps in content, appearance and methodology. Indicators used to recognise and denote community maps include the following: Community mapping is defined by the process of production. Community maps are planned around a consensus based goal and strategy for use and made with input from a community in an open and inclusive process. Community mapping is defined by the content of the maps, which depict local knowledge and information and are often aimed at addressing local issues. They contain the community’s place names, symbols, and priority features and represent local knowledge systems. Community mapping is not necessarily defined by the level of compliance with formal cartographic conventions. Nor are they confined by formal media: a community map may be a part of a GIS or a drawing in the sand. (source: Mapping for Change, Participatory Learning and action, PLA, Vol. 54. IIED 2006).

Community Information Systems (CIS) are a map-based multimedia information system in which local knowledge is documented by community members using digital video, digital photos and written text, stored on computers and managed and communicated through the interface of an interactive map (source: Jon Corbett).

Compass: A compass is a device that indicates direction. Traditionally a compass uses a magnetic needle that pivots to align with the direction of the Earth’s magnetic field; however, some recent models use electronic circuitry instead. (source: Flavelle, Alix. 2002. Mapping Our Land. Lone Pine Foundation, Edmonton, Canada).

Contour lines connect a series of points of equal elevation and are used to illustrate topography, or relief, on a map. They show the height of ground above Mean Sea Level (M.S.L.) in either feet or metres and can be drawn at any desired interval (source: Natural Resources Canada

Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD): An international treaty established with the goals of biodiversity conservation, sustainable use of biological resources, and fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from genetic resources. The convention regulatesaccessing to genetic resources and traditional knowledge through the practice of Prior Informed Consent (PIC).The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), known informally as the Biodiversity Convention, is an international, legally-binding treaty that was adopted in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992. The Convention has three main goals: (I) conservation of biological diversity; (II) sustainable use of its components; (iii) fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from genetic resources.

Its objective is to develop national strategies for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity. It is often seen as the key document regarding sustainable development. (source: See and the CBD home page: )

Coordinate: A coordinate is a pair of numbers that gives the location of a particular place on the Earth’s surface in relation to a coordinate system such as latitude and longitude or UTM. (source: Flavelle, Alix. 2002. Mapping Our Land. Lone Pine Foundation, Edmonton, Canada).

Coordinate system: A coordinate system is a pattern or network of crossing lines by which a position may be determined. See “Map Grid”. (source: Flavelle, Alix. 2002. Mapping Our Land. Lone Pine Foundation, Edmonton, Canada).

Core (Implementation) team: The implementation (or core) team is a working group comprised of the technical intermediary and the community members who are active in project management and decision making. An implementation team can also involve other key actors, such as government representatives, elders or technical experts, who add strength or legitimacy to the planning. (source: Nigel Crawhall).

Government Agency: A government agency is a permanent or semi-permanent organization in the machinery of government that is responsible for the oversight and administration of specific functions. (source:

INGO: International non-governmental organization (NGO).

Non-governmental organization (NGO): is a term that has become widely accepted as referring to a legally constituted, non-governmental organization created by natural or legal persons with no participation or representation of any government. (

Project Budget: Generally refers to a list of all planned expenses and revenues for the project.

Project Logistics: The arrangement for and procurement of transportation, storage and distribution of resources (materials and equipment); the transport, accommodation and feeding of people working on the mapping; and the securing of appropriate space for the technical work on the project.

Component: A Component is a constituent of a Unit. Each Unit contains the following Components: (i) Unit Trainer Notes; (ii) Handout for Trainee; (iii) Presentations, (iv) list of additional resources, (v) Exercises; (vi) Glossary; (vii) Workshop evaluation form, (viii) Materials evaluation form. Optional Components are the following: (i) a range of printed and electronic handouts, and (ii) multimedia.

Counter maps: by combining locally produced maps of local and traditional land holdings, with more ‘accurate’ GPS data, communities can produce maps that can allow them to make claims to land and challenge larger bureaucratic mapping projects (source: Peluso, 1995).

Creative Commons (CC): Creative Commons (CC) is a non-profit organisation headquartered in San Francisco, California, United States devoted to expanding the range of creative works available for others to share and build upon legally.[ The organisation has released several copyright-licenses known as Creative Commons licenses for free to the public. These licenses allow creators to communicate which rights they reserve and which rights they waive for the benefit of recipients or other creators. Creative Commons was invented to create a more flexible copyright model, replacing "all rights reserved" with "some rights reserved". (source: Wikipedia

Cultural mapping can be used for making intangible heritage and local and indigenous knowledge systems easily visible and understandable. It should be demand driven, contextualised and community owned and controlled. It should create intercultural dialogue and allow communities – and especially elders – to reflect on their own knowledge and listen to each other. Respectful cultural mapping can reinforce a community’s consciousness of its specific cultural traditions, resources and institutions, and also of land use practices, education, health, conflict prevention etc. It should enable communities to be better prepared to express their rights, visions and priorities – especially when confronted with development interventions initiated by a third party.

Curriculum: A curriculum is an organised programme of study and courses.

Cybertracker: This is software that was developed to allow non-literate animal trackers to communicate their environmental observations. It is a general purpose data capture and visualisation system. CyberTracker software can be used on smartphones and hand-held computers with GPS to record observations of any level of complexity.

Datum (geodetic datum): A datum is a reference from which measurements are made. It is a cartographical system, specifically, a reference ellipsoid, that is used to mathematically correct for irregularities in the Earth’s sphericity. There are many locally-developed reference datums around the world, usually referenced to some convenient local reference point. The WGS84 datum is the only world-referencing system in place today. WGS84 is the default standard datum for coordinates stored in recreational and commercial GPS units (Wikipedia

DEM (Digital elevation model): i.e., a representation of a surface in terms of elevation values that change with position. Elevation can refer to the ground surface, a soil layer, etc. According to the original definition data should be in a raster format.

Declination: The angle between the magnetic north meridian and the true north meridian at any given location is the declination. It is said to be ”east” or ”west” by a certain number of degrees according to whether the magnetic north meridian is east or west of the true north meridian. (source: Flavelle, Alix. 2002. Mapping Our Land. Lone Pine Foundation, Edmonton, Canada).

Degree: A degree is a unit (abbreviated as o) for measuring direction as if from the centre of a circle. There are 360 degrees in a circle. Each degree can be subdivided into 60 minutes (abbreviated as ‘). Each minute can be divided into 60 seconds (abbreviated as “). Bearings and declination, for example, are usually (but not always) measured in degrees. (source: Flavelle, Alix. 2002. Mapping Our Land. Lone Pine Foundation, Edmonton, Canada).

Democracy Wall: Democracy Wall is a methodology for recording comments and concerns of participants in a workshop event (source: CTA).

Depth contours or isobaths: Bathymetry is the study of underwater depth of the third dimension of lake or ocean floors. A bathymetric map or chart usually shows floor relief as depth contours or isobaths. (source:

Derived Map: A map created as the result of analysing, altering, or combining spatial information sourced from a pre-existing map, a series of maps and in this case a 3D model in a GIS environment.

Development goal: In an LFA-styled project plan, a development goal is the highest-level result. Usually a project cannot achieve the development goal – which is a broader social change – but it should contribute directly to it. The project purpose should contribute significantly to making the development goal possible. (source: Nigel Crawhall).

Differential GPS (DGPS): Differential GPS is a method of correcting for errors in GPS coordinates by using two receivers – one to rove and collect position data and the other to remain stationary at a known position to collect correction data that is transmitted to the roving receiver (or supplied to it at a later time). (source: Flavelle, Alix. 2002. Mapping Our Land. Lone Pine Foundation, Edmonton, Canada).

Digital number (DN): The recorded digital read-out of an electronic detector. It is the quantized sampled value of the electrical signal which is generated by the detector. The DNs correspond to photon energy incident upon the detector and radiances at the detector, but have not a meaningful physical unit. In 8 bits recording, the DNs are in the range [0, 255].

Digital Photography: Digital photography is a form of photography that uses digital technology to make images of subjects. Digital photographs can be displayed, printed, stored, manipulated, transmitted, and archived using digital and computer techniques, without chemical processing. (source:

Digital Terrain Model (DTM): i.e., a digital representation of terrain relief in terms of (X,Y,Z) coordinates and possibly additional information (on breaklines and salient points). Z usually stands for elevation, and (X,Y) for the horizontal position of a point. To the concept of a DTM it does not matter whether Z is orthometric or ellipsoidal elevation. Horizontal position can be defined by geographic coordinates or by grid coordinates in a map projection. DTM data can be given in different forms (contour lines, raster, TIN, profiles, etc).

Digitise: To convert an image, such as a map into a form that a computer can store and manipulate through the use of special software (a computer programme). Digitising is usually done manually, with a digitising tablet, but simply scanning the image may be suitable for some purposes (source: Flavelle, A. 2002. Mapping our Land and from PLA 54 2006).

Dilution of Precision (DOP): Dilution of Precision is an analysis of the satellite geometry and its impact on accuracy. Components of the DOP are horizontal, vertical, position and time dilutions of precision. Good DOP values range between one and three. (source: Letham, Lawrence. 2003. GPS Made Easy. Rocky Mountain Books, Calgary, Canada).

Earth Observation (EO): Term indicating the collection of remote sensing techniques performed from space.

Easting: Easting is the distance east or west from the zone meridian. (source: Letham, Lawrence. 2003. GPS Made Easy. Rocky Mountain Books, Calgary, Canada).

Ecosystem: The word “ecosystem” was coined in 1930 by Roy Clapham to denote the physical and biological components of an environment considered in relation to each other as a unit. An ecosystem is a complete community of living organisms and the nonliving materials of their surroundings. Its components include plants, animals and microorganisms; soil, rocks and minerals; and surrounding water sources and the local atmosphere. The size of ecosystems varies tremendously. An ecosystem could be an entire rainforest, covering a geographical area larger than many nations, or it could be a puddle or a backyard garden. Even the body of an animal could be considered an ecosystem, since it is home to numerous microorganisms. On a much larger scale, the history of various human societies provides an instructive illustration as to the ways that ecosystems have influenced civilizations. (source: Biology online and

Ecosystem services: This term refers to the natural resources and processes from which humans derive benefits from a local ecosystem. An ecosystem may provide wood, wildlife or fertile soil or may facilitate bees producing honey; a forest or peat system will help filter water and provide potable water to humans living in that system.

Electromagnetic energy: Energy with both electric and magnetic components. Both the wave model and photon model are used to explain this phenomenon. The measurement of reflected and emitted electromagnetic energy is an essential aspect in remote sensing.

Electromagnetic spectrum: The complete range of all wavelengths, from gamma rays (10–12 m) up to very long radio waves (1012 m).

Electronic distribution list, e-list: An electronic mailing list (sometimes written as elist or e-list) is a special usage of email that allows for widespread distribution of information to many Internet users. It is similar to a traditional mailing list — a list of names and addresses — as might be kept by an organisation for sending publications to its members or customers, but it typically refers to four things: a list of email addresses, the people ("subscribers") receiving mail at those addresses, the publications (e-mail messages) sent to those addresses and a reflector, which is a single e-mail address that, when designated as the recipient of a message, will send a copy of that message to all of the subscribers. (source:

Elicitation: Elicitation is the act of bringing forth information and terminology. Elicitation in this context means that an interviewer is asking questions of a local knowledge holder to bring forth local terminology.

Empowerment: Empowerment means the abilities that result from a process (e.g. participatory mapping) that enable people to make choices and take actions on their own behalf with self-confidence, from a position of economic, political and social strength, to change the status quo and influence change. Empowerment could also be seen as a process comprising a range of activities – from individual self-assertion to collective resistance, protest and mobilisation – that challenge existing power relations. For individuals and groups where class, caste, ethnicity and gender determine their access to resources and power, their empowerment begins when they not only recognise the systemic forces that oppress them, but also act to change existing power relationships. Empowerment, therefore, is a process aimed at changing the nature and direction of systemic forces which marginalise women and other disadvantaged sectors in a given context.

Ephemeral map or Ground map: A temporary map such as a ground map. intended to be kept for a short time only. This most basic mapmaking method consists in drawing maps on the ground. Informants use raw materials like soil, pebbles, sticks and leaves, to reproduce the physical and cultural landscapes in the manner they perceive them to be. Such ephemeral maps disappear in a matter of a wind blow. Acquired knowledge is memorised by participants and mentally recomposed when needed (source: Mapping for Change, Participatory Learning and action, PLA, Vol. 54. IIED 2006).

Ephemeris: An ephemeris is a map and calendar of the movement of celestial bodies or satellites (Flavelle 2002).

Equator: The Equator is the great circle (0o latitude) that connects all points that are at an equal distance from the north and south poles (Flavelle 2002).

Education for Sustainable Development (ESD): The United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005 – 2014) seeks to integrate the principles, values and practices of sustainable development into all aspects of education and learning in order to address the social, economic, cultural and environmental problems we face in the 21st century. The lead agency is UNESCO.( source:

Estimated Position Error (EPE): This is the potential error of a GPS position calculation. The receiver knows the satellite geometry; using the DOP values, it estimates the amount of error that may be present in the position.. source: Letham, Lawrence. 2003. GPS Made Easy. Rocky Mountain Books, Calgary, Canada.

Ethics: Norms for conduct regarding acceptable and unacceptable behaviours. Ethics are broader yet more informal than laws. Ethics may be interpreted and applied differently according to individual values and experiences. Because of their specialized training, professionals carry more moral responsibilities than the general public and thus develop their own codes of practice.

Expanded EVA / PE closed cell foam or sponge: The material is usually made out of a blend of ethylene vinyl acetate copolymer (also known as EVA) and polyethylene. The product is a lightweight foam material which has a smooth surface and does not absorb water. Generally EVA sheeting is priced competitively with other blown materials and is available in different densities, thicknesses and colours. It is one of the materials most popularly known as expanded rubber or foam rubber sheeting. (source: Elaborated by G. Rambaldi (2010) using various sources and in consultation with Mr. Brandon Geyser

Explicit knowledge: Explicit knowledge is the knowledge of which we are aware, have reflected upon and can easily capture in verbal, textual, physical or visual formats, and which transforms into information.

Evaluation: Evaluation means reflecting on whether the project has achieved its aims. Each major result can be evaluated and the aggregate of those results should mean that the project purpose has been achieved. Evaluation can be done internally by the implementation team reviewing its indicators or there can be external evaluation. Evaluation normally falls into two broad clusters: summative evaluations which look back on what has been done and formative evaluations which use past experience to provide guidance for future actions. (source: Nigel Crawhall).

Facilitation: Making something easier to do.

Facilitator: Someone who enables a group process to happen and encourages people to find their own solutions through a collaborative process. A facilitator is someone who helps a group of people understand their common objectives and assists them to plan to achieve them without taking a particular position in the discussion. (source: Wikipedia:

Feature: A feature is a group of spatial elements which together represent a real-world entity. It is often used synonymously with the term “object”. A complex feature is made up of more than one group of spatial elements (e.g. a set of line elements with the common theme of roads representing a road network). (source:

Free, Prior and Written Informed Consent (FWPIC): In the context of participatory ethics, FPWIC refers to agreement or permission which is obtained voluntarily, with sufficient advance notice, in the form of a written document, and with adequate information about the benefits, risks and burdens related to a particular project. FPWIC is a continuous process of dialogue and negotiation between consent seekers and consent givers. This concept has emerged from the practice of Prior Informed Consent (PIC) in other rural development contexts (e.g., dams, bioprospecting, mining). PIC is used to protect the right of local indigenous communities to determine how projects that might affect their land or way of life are developed. PIC has a much longer history in other fields such as human subjects research, medical practice, and hazardous waste disposal.

Field Survey (or field-mapping): The act of taking observations and measurements, on the ground, to determine geographic location.

Focal point (national): United Nations’ conventions often have national focal points who are responsible for attending key meetings and acting as liaisons between the national government and the particular UN institution. An example is that each government which has ratified the Convention on Biological Diversity has a national focal point. Focal points are important resource people when considering national programmes related to the UN Conventions and finding common ground for cooperation. Focal points are either identified on UN websites or you can contact the UN Convention Secretariat and ask for the contact details for a particular country. (source: Nigel Crawhall).

Geocoding: Process of transforming and resampling image data in such way that these can be used simultaneously with data that are in a specific map projection. Input for a geocoding process are image data and control points, output is a geocoded image. A specific category of geocoded images are orthophotos and orthoimages. Geocoding is the process of finding associated geographic coordinates (often expressed as latitude and longitude) from other geographic data, such as street addresses, or zip codes (postal codes) . With geographic coordinates the features can be mapped and entered into Geographic Information Systems or Geoweb applications, or the coordinates can be embedded into media such as digital photographs via geotagging. Reverse geocoding is the opposite: finding an associated textual location such as a street address, from geographic coordinates. A geocoder is a piece of software or a (web) service that helps in this process.

Georeferencing: Process of relating an image to a specific map projection. As a result, vector data stored in this projection can for example be superimposed on the image. The inputs for a georeferencing process are image data and coordinates of ground control points. The output is a georeferenced image.

Geo-referenced: This refers to a map or photo that has been geographically corrected so that every point on it shows an absolute location. For example, air photos and satellite images are geo-referenced to correct for scale distortions inherent in the process of collecting data through remote sensing.

Geo-spatial data: Factual information related to location on the (surface of the) Earth.

Geographic coordinate system: The grid system of latitude and longitude.

Geographic data: Any information which includes a description of a location on or near the Earth’s surface. This may include generic descriptions, for example, place names or particular geological strata (source:

Geographic information (also known as spatial information): is any information that can be geographically referenced, i.e. describing a location or any information that can be linked to a location. (source: ANZLIC, glossary

Geographic feature: See topographic feature; geographic feature may refer to surface or subsurface natural features expressed on a map.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS): GIS refers to computer-based systems designed to collect, store, manage and analyse spatially referenced information and associated attribute data.

Geotagging: Geotagging is the process of adding geographical identification metadata to various media such as photographs, video, websites, or RSS feeds and is a form of geospatial metadata. These data usually consist of latitude and longitude coordinates, though they can also include altitude, bearing, accuracy data, and place names. Geotagging can help users find a wide variety of location-specific information. For instance, one can find images taken near a given location by entering latitude and longitude coordinates into a Geotagging-enabled image search engine. Geotagging-enabled information services can also potentially be used to find location-based news, websites, or other resources.

Geoweb: The Geospatial Web or Geoweb is a term that implies the merging of geographical (location-based) information with the abstract information that currently dominates the Internet. This would create an environment where one could search for things based on location instead of by keyword only – i.e. “What is Here?”. Interest in the Geoweb has been advanced by new technologies, concepts and products. Virtual globes such as Google Earth and NASA World Wind as well as mapping websites such as Google Maps, Live Search Maps and Yahoo Maps have been major factors in raising awareness towards the importance of geography and location as a means to index information.

GIT (Geographic Information Technologies): GITs are a set of computer tools (hardware and software), techniques and geographic data used to collect, store, edit, query, manage, analyse and/or display geographically referenced information in order to map phenomena, understand spatial relationships among phenomena, derive new information and facilitate geographic problem solving. Geographic information systems (GIS), the global positioning system (GPS) and satellite/aircraft remote sensing and imaging are examples of geographic information technologies used for digital mapping, spatial analysis and other applications requiring location-based information and analysis.

Governance: Governance is a set of measures of the relationships between: the governed (the public / civil society / citizens & their institutions) and the governing (the government and its institutions, and (to a lesser extent) private sector interests). The pertinent relationships are those involving relative power applied in policy-setting, decision-making, planning and implementation. (source: McCall 2007). Governance refers to the rules, processes and behaviours of actors - governments, public sector, civil society, and private sector that affect the way power is exercised. (source: Governance in the EU, A White Paper 2001

Good governance: Good governance has eight major characteristics. It is (i) participatory, (ii) consensus oriented, (iii) accountable, (iv) transparent, (v) responsive, (vi) effective and efficient, (vii) equitable and inclusive and (viii) follows the rule of law. It assures that corruption is minimized, the views of minorities are taken into account and that the voices of the most vulnerable in society are heard in decision-making. It is also responsive to the present and future needs of society (source: “.. there is no single agreed-upon definition in good governance. In fact, the vagueness of its meaning is one reason why this term has increasingly been utilized, as it can convey a slightly different meaning depending on who uses it.” (source: Aubut, 2004, p.8)

GPS (Global Positioning System): A system of artificial satellites and ground units that enables a user with a portable receiver to determine absolute locations with good accuracy (source: Flavelle, Alix. 2002. Mapping Our Land. Lone Pine Foundation, Edmonton, Canada).

Graph scale: A graphic representation of map scale proportions using a bar and numbers to indicate distance. (source: Flavelle, Alix. 2002. Mapping Our Land. Lone Pine Foundation, Edmonton, Canada).

Grid: A network of horizontal and vertical lines that provide coordinates for locating points on an image (source:

Grid North: North as indicated by the north meridians of a particular map projection. (source: Flavelle, Alix. 2002. Mapping Our Land. Lone Pine Foundation, Edmonton, Canada).

Ground-checking : The purpose of ground-checking is to verify the locations of features shown on a map. It involves going out onto the land and observing – and possibly measuring – the relationships of certain features to other features. This may also be called “ground-truthing”.

Ground maps: A temporary map such as a ground map intended to be kept for a short time only. This most basic mapmaking method consists in drawing maps on the ground. Informants use raw materials like soil, pebbles, sticks and leaves, to reproduce the physical and cultural landscapes in the manner they perceive them to be. Such ephemeral maps disappear in a matter of a wind blow. Acquired knowledge is memorised by participants and mentally recomposed when needed. (source: Mapping for Change, Participatory Learning and action, PLA, Vol. 54. IIED 2006).

Ground truth: A term that may include different types of observations and measurements performed in the field. The name is imprecise because it suggests that these are 100 % accurate and reliable, and this may be difficult to achieve. May also be referred to as ground-checking.

Group memory: A visual record of the information generated during a meeting or workshop by the participants. The group memory can be used as minutes. Group memory is intended to help provide focus in group discussions, reduce repetition in conversations, and depersonalize the ideas. (source: Barkai, John. Undated. "Group memory and recording" from Meeting Facilitation, University of Hawaii Law School.)

Horizontal distance: Distance along the horizontal (as distinguished from slope distance). (source: Flavelle, Alix. 2002. Mapping Our Land. Lone Pine Foundation, Edmonton, Canada).

Human subjects research: Obtaining data about living individuals (“subjects”) through intervention (physical procedures or manipulations of subjects or their environment) or interaction (communication or other interpersonal contact) with them or from individually identifiable information. Research on human subjects is diverse and includes biomedical, behavioural and social science studies. The practice of obtaining informed consent from participants in human subjects’ research is based upon the Belmont Report and the Nuremburg Code.

Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention: An international, legally binding instrument aimed at protecting indigenous peoples and their cultures with special actions by the International Labour Organization. Two key elements of this convention are participatory development and prior informed consent. In articles 2, 6 and 15, the Convention requires that States fully consult with indigenous peoples and ensure their informed participation in the context of development, national institutions and programmes, and lands and resources. According to Article 16: “relocation shall take place only with their free and informed consent. Where their consent cannot be obtained, such relocation shall take place only following appropriate procedures established by national laws and regulations, including public inquiries where appropriate, which provide the opportunity for effective representation of the peoples concerned.”

IHS: intensity-hue-saturation.

Image: The optical counterpart (pictorial representation) of an object produced by an optical device or an electronic device. An example of an image is a photograph, which is the likeliness of an object or scene recorded on photographic material. Another example is the picture produced on a computer screen or a television set. The term ‘remote sensing image’ is frequently used to either distinguish arbitrary images on an electronic display from those originating from a sensor or to denote raw data produced by an electronic sensor, which are in fact not pictorial but arrays of digital numbers; the digital numbers are related to a property of an object or scene, such as the amount of reflected light. Similarly also the term ‘digital image’ is commonly used for an array of digital numbers, which can readily be converted to an image on a computer screen or by a printer. It is convenient to call the result of scanning a photograph or the data produced by a digital camera digital images.

Image classification: Image classification is the process of assigning pixels to nominal, i.e. thematic, classes. Input is a multi-band image, output is a raster in which each cell has a (thematic) code. Image classification can be realized using a supervised or unsupervised approach.

Image interpretation: The key process in information extraction from images. The application context determines what is to be considered as information. We can use visual interpretation or computer vision techniques for recognizing features and objects of interest in an image.

Image sensor (or imager): A photographic camera is an imaging sensor. The term, however, is mostly used for (optical-) electronic sensors. They provide data of a scene in an image fashion in the form of a two-dimensional array of DNs for each spectral band of sensing. A single element of such a 2D array is referred to as pixel. The pixel value - the DN - is an integer number in a fixed range. The range is a power of 2, depending on how many bits are used for storing a DN. 8 bits is very common, but it can be up to 16 bits especially for thermal and microwave sensors. Such an array - the ‘digital image’ – can readily be used to drive a computer monitor or a printer after D/A conversion, this way creating an image.

Indicators An indicator quantifies and simplifies phenomena and helps us understand complex realities. Indicators are aggregates of raw and processed data but they can be further aggregated to form complex indices. (IISD definition). Indicators measure progress on a quantitative scale. Examples include literacy rates, agricultural productivity/crop yields and child mortality ratios. In each case, the indicator measures progress towards the outcome reflecting the desired result. (Asia Development Bank) ( IISD and ADB cited here).

Indigenous Spatial Knowledge: Indigenous spatial knowledge refers to location-specific indigenous knowledge. (source Giacomo Rambaldi).

Indigenous Knowledge: (IK) Indigenous knowledge (IK), traditional knowledge (TK), traditional environmental knowledge (TEK) and local knowledge generally refer to the long-standing traditions and practices of certain regional, indigenous or local communities. Traditional knowledge also encompasses the wisdom, knowledge and teachings of these communities. In many cases, traditional knowledge has been passed orally for generations from person to person. Some forms of traditional knowledge are expressed through stories, legends, folklore, rituals, songs and even laws. (source: Wikipedia

Index contour: A contour line that is darker or thicker than the regular ones to assist in more quickly determining elevation. Index contours usually fall every fifth (or fourth) line and represent round-number elevations, such as 250 or 500 m. (source: Flavelle, Alix. 2002. Mapping Our Land. Lone Pine Foundation, Edmonton, Canada)

Instantaneous field of view (IFOV): The viewing angle of a detector (the beam divergence of the radiation); expressed in milliradiants (mrad).

Intellectual property rights (IPR): Legal protections given to individuals and groups to ensure that they benefit from their own cultural discoveries, creations and products. While Western intellectual property law is based on the notion of individual property rights and encourage private economic gain, indigenous world-views generally extend property rights to the entire community and promote group survival. Problems arise from incompatibilities between IPR and traditional knowledge when individuals or other outsiders misappropriate knowledge that belong to traditional communities.

International mechanisms: When governments agree at the United Nations to a certain set of standards or principles, usually a particular mechanism is created. The agreement itself is a mechanism, such as a convention or a declaration. Frequently these are normative instruments in that they define how a state should behave and they set targets for transforming behaviours. In addition, the mechanism may have a review body, such as the committees that hear cases related to violations of the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination or the two UN covenants. (source: See the Amnesty International article on human rights mechanisms,

International policy instrument: An international policy instrument refers to any type of binding or non-binding instrument (e.g. treaty, agreement, norm or standard) which has been negotiated and approved to guide international behaviour by states and possibly other actors. The United Nations has a system of policy instruments. Declarations are statements of standards but are not binding (they do not require ratification and proof of implementation). Instruments such as conventions may require additional ratification which makes them binding international law and admissible to national courts (providing this is legal and has been agreed constitutionally in the sovereign state). (source: Nigel Crawhall).

International standards instrument: International standards instruments are usually non-binding agreements which define acceptable behaviour and norms for states and possibly other actors. See international policy instruments above. (source: Nigel Crawhall).

Internet: The Internet is a global network of interconnected computers, enabling users to share information along multiple channels. Typically, a computer that connects to the Internet can access information from a vast array of available servers and other computers by moving information from them to the computer's local memory. The same connection allows that computer to send information to servers on the network; that information is in turn accessed and potentially modified by a variety of other interconnected computers. A majority of widely accessible information on the Internet consists of inter-linked hypertext documents and other resources of the World Wide Web (WWW). Computer users typically manage sent and received information with web browsers; other software for users' interface with computer networks includes specialized programs for electronic mail, online chat, file transfer and file sharing.

Interpretation elements: A set of cues used by the human vision system to interpret a picture. The seven interpretation elements are: tone/hue, texture, pattern, shape, size, height/elevation, and location/association.

Intersection: Intersection is a survey technique that involves taking bearings from two known places to identify the location of a third, unknown location. (source: Flavelle, Alix. 2002. Mapping Our Land. Lone Pine Foundation, Edmonton, Canada).

Justice: One of the three requirements of ethical research (see Belmont Report). Justice refers to the equitable distribution of burdens and benefits. For example, during the 19th and early 20th centuries the burdens of serving as research subjects fell largely upon poor ward patients, while the benefits of improved medical care flowed primarily to private patients. Subsequently, the exploitation of unwilling prisoners as research subjects in Nazi concentration camps was condemned as a particularly flagrant injustice. The Tuskegee syphilis study used disadvantaged, rural black men to study the untreated course of a disease that is by no means confined to that population. These subjects were deprived of demonstrably effective treatment in order not to interrupt the project, long after such treatment became generally available.

Knowledge can be considered as how we understand, give meaning, perceive or interpret the world around us (Leeuwis, 2004). Knowledge is what we store in our mind and what leads us to take decisions, act and react to stimuli received from the external world. Knowledge is very subjective and builds up in everybody’s mind through a continuous learning process involving, among others, concrete experiences, interaction and communication with others, observations and reflections, formation of concepts and their testing. Three types of knowledge can be distinguished: Unconscious knowledge, tacit knowledge, and explicit knowledge.

Tacit knowledge Tacit knowledge (sometimes referred to as “soft” knowledge) corresponds to knowledge of which we are not immediately aware and on which we base our day-to-day actions. Tacit knowledge is implicit in individuals or groups without the possessor necessarily realising it and it is difficult to communicate.

The process of transforming tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge is known as codification or articulation. Tacit knowledge can be expressed and articulated through in-depth discussions and interactive exercises. (source: Wikipedia

Ladder of citizen participation: Several versions of Arnstein (1969)’s “Ladder of Citizen Participation” have been developed. The metaphor demonstrates the varied levels of community involvement that occurs under projects deemed “participatory”. The bottom rung of the ladder might be considered non-participation because there is no public contribution to the project. The ‘participants’ are being informed of what will happen. On the opposite end of the ladder is “citizen control”, where citizens have full authority. over a project. (source: Arnstein, Sherry R. "A Ladder of Citizen Participation," JAIP, Vol. 35, No. 4, July 1969, pp. 216-224.)

Landmark: An easily identified feature in the landscape. (source: Wikipedia

Laser rangefinder: A laser rangefinder is a device that uses a laser beam to determine the distance to an object. The most common form of laser rangefinder works by sending a laser pulse toward an object and measuring the time taken for the pulse to reflect off the target and return to the sender.

Latitude: Parallel lines running east-west around the globe, measured in degrees north or south from the equator. (source: Flavelle, Alix. 2002. Mapping Our Land. Lone Pine Foundation, Edmonton, Canada).

Learning Outcome: A learning outcome is a statement that specifies what a learner will be able to do as a result of a learning activity. A learning outcome must be observable and measurable and the specified action must be done by the learner. (source: American Association of Libraries

Legend: The part of a map (or an additional sheet) that explains what the symbols on the map mean. The legend is the key to a map; it consists of visual codes and a description of their meaning in a written language (Wikipedia ; Medieval sourcebook ; Wikipedia

Light table: A piece of drafting equipment that consists of a translucent work surface (with or without legs) with a light source beneath it, used to facilitate the copying of information from one sheet of paper (or plastic) to another. (source: Flavelle, Alix. 2002. Mapping Our Land. Lone Pine Foundation, Edmonton, Canada).

Line: A line is a feature on the map that identifies a legend item which is long and narrow in character. A line is typically applied to rivers, roads, paths or any other feature that stretches from one point on the map to another.

Listserv: LISTSERV is the first electronic mailing list software application, consisting of a set of email addresses for a group in which the sender can send one email and it will reach a variety of people. Since its launch in 1986, several other list management tools have been developed, such as Lyris ListManager in 1997, Sympa in 1997 and GNU Mailman in 1998. LISTSERV was freeware from 1986 through 1993 and is now a commercial product developed by L-Soft, a company founded by LISTSERV author Eric Thomas in 1994. A free version limited to 10 lists of up to 500 subscribers each can be downloaded from the company’s website. (source:

Lingua franca: Lingua franca refers to a language shared by different communities; it may or may not be a mother tongue (i.e. first language) of one or more communities. It is a language by which multilingual communities may choose to communicate. Examples would be Swahili in Kenya or Tanzania or Lingala in DR Congo.

Local knowledge: ‘…is the sum total of the knowledge and skills which people in a particular geographic area possess, and which enable them to get the most out of their natural environment. Most of this knowledge and these skills have been passed down from earlier generations, but individual men and women in each generation adapt and add to this body of knowledge in a constant adjustment to changing circumstance and environmental conditions’ (source: IKDM, 1998).

Local spatial knowledge (LSK) ‘… describes home and action space, is innate and sustained knowledge about the land, identifies issues of immediate significance, and encodes the information about the environment in a language a region’s inhabitants understand’ It includes: specific technical knowledge known only (or in detail, primarily) to the local people, e.g. local knowledge of soils, plants, water sources, medicines. Similar to the concept of indigenous technical knowledge (ITK). spatial knowledge representing different viewpoints and understandings of local actors, (different from the dominant ‘official’ view). These different viewpoints can be reflected in counter maps. mental maps, which are not usually based on standard geometry. Spiritual or mystical spatial knowledge associated with cultural spaces, particularly with specific areas of land or resources, and incorporate the origin myths of indigenous, natural resource-dependent, cultures. (McCall 2003, after Duerden and Kuhn, 1996).

Location map: A small, small-scale map that shows where the land depicted on the main map is in relation to the whole state, province, or country. (source: Flavelle, Alix. 2002. Mapping Our Land. Lone Pine Foundation, Edmonton, Canada).

Logical Framework Approach (LFA) and ZOPP: The Logical Framework Approach (LFA) is a management tool mainly used in the design, monitoring and evaluation of development projects. It is also known as Goal-oriented Project Planning (GOPP) or Objectives-oriented Project Planning (ZOPP). ZOPP (from Ziel-Orientierte Projekt Planung) which has been widely promoted by the Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ). It is an underlying system of analysis and organisation found in many results-based management methodologies. The result of applying the method is a log frame – a matrix summary of the planning, objectives and resources – with an underlying analytical process that ensures that if the lower-level results are achieved, they will cause the higher-level goals to be achieved. (source: and

Longitude: Meridian lines running north-south and joining at the poles; measured in degrees from the Prime Meridian (0o). (source: Flavelle, Alix. 2002. Mapping Our Land. Lone Pine Foundation, Edmonton, Canada).

Magnetic dip: Magnetic dip or magnetic inclination is the angle made by a compass needle with the horizontal at any point on the Earth's surface. Positive values of inclination indicate that the field is pointing downward, toward the center of the Earth, at the point of measurement. source: Note, compasses are manufactured for different regions of the world in accordance with the magnetic dip of the region.

Magnetic north: Magnetic north is the direction of the meridian along which a freely suspended magnetic needle would lie if it were influenced only by the Earth’s magnetic field. Magnetic north is constantly moving, albeit so slowly that in almost all locations, this movement causes only negligible error in compass use. (source: Flavelle, Alix. 2002. Mapping Our Land. Lone Pine Foundation, Edmonton, Canada).

Map: A picture of the land, a map is a graphic representation, often two-dimensional, of some part (or all) of the Earth's surface. Maps can also be in 3-dimensions There are many different kinds of maps.( source: Flavelle, Alix. 2002. Mapping Our Land. Lone Pine Foundation, Edmonton, Canada).

Map grid: A pattern or network of lines crossing a map, by which a position may be determined.

Map projection: A particular way (such as UTM) of depicting the curved surface of the Earth as a two-dimensional map through the use of a specific mathematical algorithm. (source: Flavelle, Alix. 2002. Mapping Our Land. Lone Pine Foundation, Edmonton, Canada).

Map scale: The scale of a map can be defined simply as the relationship between distance on the map and the distance on the ground, expressed as a proportion, or representative ratio.

Map series: A set of thematic maps of the same area, or a set of maps (that were made with the same process and format) to cover a region too large to fit on one map sheet at the desired scale. (source: Flavelle, Alix. 2002. Mapping Our Land. Lone Pine Foundation, Edmonton, Canada).

Mashup: A Web application that combines data or functionality from two or more sources into a single integrated application. The term mashup implies easy, fast integration, frequently done by access to open APIs and data sources to produce results that were not the original reason for producing the raw source data. An example of a mashup is the use of cartographic data from Google Maps to add location information to real estate data, thereby creating a new and distinct Web service that was not originally provided by either source.

Media: mass, interpersonal or hybrid media are basis devices that help to combine different communication channels for the ‘transportation’ and exchange of ‘textual, visual, auditive, tactile and or olfactory signals. Hence different media can be used in the context of methods and methodologies (source: Leeuwis, 2004).

Medical informed consent: An ethical obligation and a legal requirement governing the physician-patient relationship. Informed consent is a patient's right to be presented with sufficient information, by either the physician or their representative, to allow the patient to make an informed decision regarding whether or not to consent to a treatment or procedure. Patients generally are recognized as having the right to refuse medical care for any reason. Their reasons may include religious grounds as well as any other personal grounds they choose, even if the physician considers their grounds to be frivolous or in poor judgment.

Mental maps: represent the perceptions and knowledge that an individual has of an area. Mental maps allow us to know ‘what is out there, what its attributes are, where it is and how to get there’. Mental maps are distinctive to individuals. They are not inclusive like a cartographic map with a constant scale, but consist of discrete, hierarchically-organised pieces determined by physical, perceptual or conceptual boundaries. (source: Wikipedia

Meridian: A great circle around the Earth , or half of one. A meridian of longitude (or line of longitude) connects the north and south poles. The meridian of longitude that passes through any particular point can be called the north meridian for that point. (source: Flavelle, Alix. 2002. Mapping Our Land. Lone Pine Foundation, Edmonton, Canada).

Metadata: Simply, metadata is data about other data. Some examples of metadata include information about data points such as their name, size, location, or date recorded. (source: Wikipedia

Methodologies are basically more or less a series of predefined steps, procedures and activities. Each step can involve the use or one or several methods. Methodologies are often known under a particular label or acronym, e.g. Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) (source: Leeuwis, 2004).

Methods can be seen as a particular mode of using media and media combinations within the context of a confined activity. A method can (but need not) be and element in a methodology. Examples of methods include a workshop, a discussion group, a farm visit, a priority ranking (an element of e.g. PRA) (source: Leeuwis, 2004).

Mind Map: a diagram that can be included in the notes to organize and structure one’s thinking through the use of words, concepts and images. It involves the creation of a diagram that arranges a series of thoughts in a radial pattern around a central idea. This technique is useful because mind maps are quick and easy to make, and the information that they contain is generally easier to remember and review due to the visual component of the map. (source: Instructional Strategies Online.

Module: A Module is a comprehensive set of Units on a topic (e.g. "M02 Attitudes, Behaviours and Ethics " or "M13 Participatory Internet Mapping"). The Training Kit includes 15 Modules identified by the codes M01-M15.

Monitoring means collecting data or information about the result indicators. Monitoring is defined in advance (during the planning phase) and then information is collected as the project is implemented to ensure that targets are being met, the time frame is being observed and the results are as anticipated. If monitoring reveals a problem (i.e. not meeting targets), the project plans must be reviewed. (source: Nigel Crawhall).

Mosaicing is the process of assembling a series of images and joining them together to form a continuous seamless photographic representation of the earth’s surface. These can be done manually on aerial photos or digitally with remote sensing images and scanned aerial photos or digital aerial photos (source: Silika Tuivanuavou).

Mylar: Sheets made of biaxially-oriented polyethylene terephthalate (boPET) polyester film, used for its high tensile strength, chemical and dimensional stability, and transparency. Used as a clear overlay map for tracing additional data on a base map. source: adapted from

Natural resource management (NRM): is the utilisation of natural resources and natural resource systems towards certain objectives”. “Management is for a purpose, which means for human purposes”. “Objectives include equity and development objectives, as well as those of efficiency and growth.” “Objectives are of long-term sustainability, as well as of meeting short-term needs.” “Management” of environment and natural resources is used here at any of three levels of natural resource management intensity – simple, exploitative use of a resource or of a eco-unit, maintenance or reproduction of a particular resource or unit, management of the broader ecosystem containing and nurturing the resource. (source: McCall, ITC, 1994).

Networks: networks are real and virtual fora for sharing information and ideas. Networks are often important for advocacy work, in that they can provide information, resources and alliance-building opportunities and they can also help distribute media and messages coming out of the mapping. (source: Nigel Crawhall).

Network-centric advocacy is a hybrid of the individual determination and participation typical of direct and grassroots models with the efficiencies and strengths of the organisational model. The hybrid is only possible because of the increased density of communications connections among potential participants and the ability to scale those connections to meet demand. The network-centric advocacy focuses on supporting individual engagement by connected grid resources (that may reside with individuals or organisations). The network-centric approach relies on dense communication ties to provide the synchronising effects, prioritisation and deployment roles of the organisation. The potential for network-centric advocacy increases with each advancement in connectivity technology (e.g. web meetings, phone WIFI, teleconference, voice mail, cell phones, voice over IP) and transportation costs (source:

North line: A line drawn on a map so as to align with a north meridian. It provides a reference line by which to measure bearings by using a compass or protractor. (source: Flavelle, Alix. 2002. Mapping Our Land. Lone Pine Foundation, Edmonton, Canada).

Northing: The distance north or south of a fixed reference point, the equator. This term is used when using the UTM system in particular.

Normative instrument: Normative instruments are a type of international standards and policy instrument, with the purpose of setting goals in policy evolution. Negotiated at the global level, they are intended to assist states in developing national policy and practices which harmonise with international norms and standards. The term “normative” means that they are value-based. (source: Nigel Crawhall).

Nuremburg Code: A set of ten ethical principles developed in response to the inhumane experimentation on prisoners by Nazi doctors during World War II. It has 10 points, the first of which is related to informed consent: “The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential. This means that the person involved should have legal capacity to give consent; should be so situated as to be able to exercise free power of choice, without the intervention of any element of force, fraud, deceit, duress, over-reaching, or other ulterior form of constraint or coercion; and should have sufficient knowledge and comprehension of the elements of the subject matter involved as to enable him to make an understanding and enlightened decision. This latter element requires that before the acceptance of an affirmative decision by the experimental subject there should be made known to him the nature, duration, and purpose of the experiment; the method and means by which it is to be conducted; all inconveniences and hazards reasonable to be expected; and the effects upon his health or person which may possibly come from his participation in the experiment.”

Objects: An entity obtained by abstracting the real world, having a physical nature (certain composition of material), being given a descriptive name, and observable; e.g., “house”. An object is a self-contained part of a scene having certain discriminating properties.

Observation: An act of recognizing and noting a fact or occurrence often involving measurement with instruments (Earth observation) as well as a record or description so obtained. The outcome can be qualitative or quantitative. My girl friend is pretty, the boy is handsome, the fish smells badly.

Offset: The perpendicular distance from a traverse line to a parallel line or to a point (source: Flavelle, Alix. 2002. Mapping Our Land. Lone Pine Foundation, Edmonton, Canada).

On-screen digitizing: On-screen digitizing captures data from digital images or scanned maps by using the mouse instead of the cursor. This allows for creating map layers by adding labels during tracing. While the features are still manually traced, and provided images have been taken at high resolution, on-screen digitizing grants a higher level of accuracy because the operator can use the zoom facility. In addition, on-screen digitizing allows for editing features when enough information is available from the image. (source: IAPAD

Open and Distance Learning (ODL): ODL indicates openness with respect to media, place and pace of learning, support mechanisms, and entry and exit points. A principal characteristic is separation of learners and teachers in time and/or space. Other terms commonly used are correspondence education, home study, continuing education, self-instruction, flexible and distributed learning, e-learning, virtual learning, technology-based and -mediated education.

Open Educational Resources (OER): OER are digitized learning materials offered freely and openly to educators, students and self-learners to be used and reused for teaching, learning and research.

Orthoimage: An orthoimage and orthophoto have been corrected for terrain relief. As a result, an orthoimage can be used directly in combination with geocoded data.

Orthophoto: A perspective aerial photograph contains image displacements caused by the tilting of the camera and terrain relief (topography). It does not have a uniform scale. Distances cannot be measured on a conventional aerial photograph like one can do on a map. In an orthophoto the effects of tilt and relief are removed from the aerial photograph by the rectification process. Therefore an orthophoto is a uniform-scale photograph or photographic map. Since an orthophoto has a uniform scale, it is possible to measure directly on it like other maps. An orthophoto may serve as a base map onto which other map information may be overlaid (source: U.S. Geological Survey

Overlay map: A thematic map drawn on tracing –paper (or on a plastic sheet) that is laid over a base map or other map.

Panorama sketch: A landscape sketch made from a location that has a view of the surrounding terrain for a fair distance. (source: Flavelle, Alix. 2002. Mapping Our Land. Lone Pine Foundation, Edmonton, Canada).

Parallel (of latitude): A circle on the Earth’s surface that is parallel to the equator, but smaller and either to the north or south of it. A line of latitude. (source: Flavelle, Alix. 2002. Mapping Our Land. Lone Pine Foundation, Edmonton, Canada).

Participation: The act of taking part or sharing in something.

Participatory 3D Modelling (P3DM): P3DM is a participatory mapping method integrating indigenous spatial knowledge with data on elevation of the land and depth of the sea to produce stand-alone, scaled and geo-referenced relief models. Essentially based on local spatial knowledge, land use and cover and other features are depicted by informants on the model by using push pins for points, yarns for lines and paints for polygons. On completion, a scaled and geo-referenced grid is applied to facilitate data extraction or importation. Data depicted on the model are extracted, digitised and plotted. On completion of the exercise, the model remains with the community. (Rambaldi and Callosa-Tarr, 2002).

Participatory 3D Models: These are stand-alone, scaled and georeferenced relief models produced through a participatory mapping method integrating indigenous spatial knowledge with data on elevation of the land and depth of the sea.

Participatory Learning and Action (PLA): This is an umbrella term for a wide range of similar approaches and methodologies to involve communities in self-help and development projects. The common theme to all these approaches is the full participation of people in the processes of learning about their needs and opportunities and in the action required to address them.

Passive sensor: Sensor that records energy that is produced by external sources such as the Sun and the Earth.

Pattern: As an interpretation element it refers to the spatial arrangement of features in an image; it implies the characteristic repetition of certain forms or relationships.

PGIS (Participatory GIS): PGIS is an emergent practice in its own right. It is the result of a merger between Participatory Learning and Action (PLA) methods with Geographic Information Technologies (GIT). PGIS facilitates the representation of local people’s spatial knowledge using two- or three-dimensional maps. These map products can be used to facilitate decision-making processes and to support communication and community advocacy. PGIS practice is geared towards community empowerment through tailored, demand-driven and user-friendly applications of these geospatial technologies. Good PGIS practice is flexible and adapts to different socio-cultural and biophysical environments. It often relies on combining “expert” skills with local knowledge. Unlike traditional GIS applications, PGIS places control for access and use of culturally sensitive spatial data in the hands of those communities who generated the data.

PGIS spatial analysis uses the functionality and data associated with GIS technology to explore community driven questions. In the process, local spatially referenced as well as non-spatial data are integrated and analysed to support discussion and decision-making processes. The spatial analytic functionalities allow much easier and rapid analysis by the users, of e.g. time and cost functions, of separation and contiguity, and of the effects of barriers and buffers (source: Mapping for Change, Participatory Learning and action, PLA, Vol. 54. IIED 2006).

Photogrammetry: The science and technique of making measurements on photographs and converting these to quantities meaningful in the terrain.

Photograph: An image on photographic material, film or paper. A photograph in its strict sense is analogue and a record of reflected electromagnetic energy of an object or scene of only a very narrow spectral range from ultraviolet to near infrared. In an even stricter sense, light sensitive film should also have been used by the sensor to detect the electromagnetic energy. (Note, according to this very strict definition a picture taken by a digital camera and printed on an inkjet printer is not a photograph nor is a panchromatic image produced from a raw data of an electronic camera on a photographic film writer).

PNA (Personal Navigation Assistant) or PND (Personal Navigation Device): A portable electronic device which combines a positioning capability (such as GPS) and navigation functions (source:

Picture: A (2D) counterpart of an object or scene produced by a device or a human (artist). A photograph is an image, an image is a picture, but not all pictures are images and not all images are photographs.

Pixel: The term stands for ’picture element’; it is the building cell of a digital image - see image sensor.

Planimetrics means a two-dimensional (planar) representation of geographical space (source:

Planning methodology: The development sector has adopted various methodologies for planning, which include monitoring and evaluation tools. Logical Framework Approach (LFA) and Appreciative Inquiry are given here as examples. The value of having a specific methodology, even if you modify it, is that you consistently use the same terms and measures, which helps everyone understand what the planning terms really mean and how they are to be achieved, recorded and evaluated. (source: Nigel Crawhall).

Platform: A vehicle, such as a satellite or aircraft (or part of it), used to carry.

Point : A point is a feature on the map that identifies a legend item that has a specific location (e.g. a landmark, a house or a tree) which is neither an area (polygon) nor a line (such as a river or erosion gulley).

Policy: A purposive course of action followed by an actor(s) in dealing with a problem or matter of concern. Policies focus on what is or will be actually carried out, as opposed to what is only intended or chosen from among alternatives. Policies are relationships between authoritative institutions and people (e.g. government and citizens) in which the institutions endeavour to change people's behaviour.

Policy instruments: Policy Instruments are the means or mechanisms used to make sure that the intended target group will perform according to the intended outcomes of a policy. Alternatively, policy instruments are the means by which the intended outcomes of a policy should impact upon a target group. (source: McCall ITC 2004).

Polygon: A polygon is a closed plane figure bounded by three or more line segments. In the context of mapping, a polygon is a closed area that has been coded on the map and that represents a particular real feature, such as a vegetation zone, a type of forest or hunting area, a lake or a type of soil in that part of the landscape (source:

Power: Power is an individual, collective and political force that can either undermine or empower citizens or groups of people and their organisations. Power in this case is presented as a force that alternatively can facilitate, hasten or halt the process of change promoted through participatory mapping and advocacy.

PPGIS (Public Participation GIS): has evolved in the North as an intersection of participatory planning and Geographic Information Technologies and Systems (GIT&S). It makes use of increasingly sophisticated approaches. In inner cities and indigenous communities where technical competency and cost have been barriers to GIS implementation, PPGIS applications occur within several organisational arrangements including: community-university partnerships with inner city communities (Ghose 2001; Craig and Elwood; 1998); grassroots social organisations (Sieber 2001); and Internet-based PPGIS (Carver et. al. 2001; Craig et al., 2002). These organisations combine GIS with a host of modern communication technologies to facilitate dialogue and data usage among local groups. Equity issues are frequently addressed, particularly the spatial implications of 'environmental justice', usually closely associated with discriminatory zoning of ethnic groups (source: Mapping for Change, Participatory Learning and action, PLA, Vol. 54. IIED 2006).

Practical ethics: focuses on understanding and addressing difficult and controversial social issues arising in such fields as politics, economics, technology, healthcare, business, environmental conservation and education. Ethics more broadly investigates the meaning of the good, emphasising the role of values in raising and critically responding to questions of deep and abiding personal and common concern. Practical ethics requires resource managers who engage in mapping to follow clear protocols for explaining complex consequences of mapping to rural communities. This protocol requires outside actors to communicate clearly with each community, clarifying the purpose/objectives of collecting information, agreeing with villagers on what information can be mapped, and explaining potential consequences of recording the community's spatial information on maps that can then be copied and distributed outside the community. Most importantly, outside facilitators must communicate to villagers that they can agree to accept or reject the mapping exercise.

Prime Meridian: Zero degrees longitude. Also known as the Greenwich Meridian because it was established at the Greenwich Observatory near London, England (source: Flavelle, Alix. 2002. Mapping Our Land. Lone Pine Foundation, Edmonton, Canada)

Problem statement: A problem statement is the result of analysing the negative condition experienced by the community that can be resolved. A problem statement sits in a larger “problem tree” of cause and effect problems. The problem statement is the key level of the problem tree which the implementation team intends (and has the capacity) to resolve.

Problem tree is a specific method for choosing the problem statement in planning. Problem tree analysis is also known as situational analysis. It is designed to elaborate causes and effects of problems in a participatory methodology, helping users identify a key level for intervention to bring positive changes. Participants write one negative condition on a meta-card. The cards are assembled in a hierarchy of cause and effect. Problems that cause other problems are put below and problems that are effects go above. Once the problem hierarchy is established, it should be possible to flip the cards into the positive, so that resolving a deeper problem should resolve all the effect cards to make them positive. (

Project purpose The project purpose is the main achievable result that is the focus of the project planning. A project purpose should resolve the problem statement which has been identified. Project purpose is found in a number of planning methodologies, notably in LFA.

Projection: A representation of an object, such as the Earth’s surface. Maps are ultimately projections of the Earth, as they transform 3D objects into 2D images (source: Mimi Hu

Protractor: A device, usually made of clear plastic and is circular, square or D-shaped, used to measure angles (source: Flavelle, Alix. 2002. Mapping Our Land. Lone Pine Foundation, Edmonton, Canada).

Ratio scale: The scale of a map denoted by a ratio or a fraction in words.

Reconnaissance: term denoting exploration conducted to gain information (source:

Recorder: A person who records the “group memory” of a meeting by documenting the discussion for the group’s benefit and assisting the meeting’s facilitator by keeping track of the information that is generated. The recorder does not participate in the conversation except to ask for clarification or summarize what has been said. (source: Barkai, John. Undated. "Group memory and recording" from Meeting Facilitation, University of Hawaii Law School).

Rectification (of aerial photographs): Rectification of aerial photographs involves the establishment of ground control points that link each image to its corresponding aerial coverage on a digital orthophoto quarter quad (DOQQ) that serves as the base map. Points are chosen on the image that can be matched to points on the DOQQ. Once all the ground control points have been established, the image is rectified. Once the rectification is complete, the image is made semitransparent and overlain on the DOQQ (source: Bureau of Economic Geology

Reference map: A base map that has been made more locally relevant by ground-checking (and correcting if necessary) major features and adding local landmarks and place names. Reference map may refer specifically to the final base map on which all the information from field surveys and other sources has been compiled.

Reflectance: The portion of the incident energy on a surface that is reflected; it is usually expressed as percentage. We call spectral reflectance the reflectance as a function of wavelength. Reflectance is sometimes also expressed as ratio with a value range 0 to 1 and then occasionally called reflectivity.

Registration marks: Small marks (usually ‘+” symbols) used to simplify the aligning of one or more overlay maps with a base map to ensure that the features on the overlay map(s) are drawn in their correct positions with respect to the base map. (source: Flavelle, Alix. 2002. Mapping Our Land. Lone Pine Foundation, Edmonton, Canada).

Relative location: A location of a place measured in relation to (for example, 600 m southwest of, or 100 m downhill from) another place (source: Flavelle, Alix. 2002. Mapping Our Land. Lone Pine Foundation, Edmonton, Canada).

Raster: Data characterized by the use of pixels to represent an image. In order to understand raster data, one can imagine that the image, or the map, is divided into a grid that is made up of many small cells. Each cell in the grid contains information about the unique properties contained within the cell.

Raster Image: A raster image file is generally defined as a rectangular array of regularly sampled values, known as pixels. Each pixel (picture element) has one or more numbers associated with it, generally specifying a colour, which the pixel should be displayed in.

Remote sensing: The process of gathering information about the Earth from a distance. ‘Remote’ because observation is done at a distance without physical contact with the object of interest. Such data is commonly gathered by satellite or aerial photography or other instrument-based techniques.

RGB: red, green, blue. (source: Digimap Guernsey

Representative fraction: The scale of a map denoted by a ratio or a fraction in words.

Resection: A survey technique that involves taking bearings to two known places to determine the location of a third, unknown location at which you are standing. (source: Flavelle, Alix. 2002. Mapping Our Land. Lone Pine Foundation, Edmonton, Canada).

Resolution: The smallest distance or size of object that can be seen in an image (as acquired, for instance, through remote sensing).

Result: A result is the outcome of a set of actions. When all the project results are achieved, they should achieve the project purpose. The term “result” is sometimes given as outcome or objective, depending on the project planning method. (source: Nigel Crawhall).

Risks and assumptions: Risks are factors that have to be monitored during the project but which cannot be controlled by the project. Risks can include factors such as bad weather conditions, civil unrest or a major change in the environment. Risks that are too great make the project unreliable and are unlikely to attract funding. Assumptions relate to the grading of the risks (i.e. how serious they are assumed to be). (source: Nigel Crawhall).

“RSS” (Really Simple Syndication): A piece of digital information (e.g. a news article) that can be broadcasted and spread around internet and devices able to browse in internet. The “feed” means the data format through which the information is transmitted (RSS feed). When the type of data are media files (videos, music, radio streams) the feed is called podcast. An “aggregator” or “feed reader” is the application able to read the feed and download the news/files on your computer.

Respect for persons: One of the three requirements of ethical research (see Belmont Report). Respect for persons recognizes the autonomy (i.e., self-determination, or the ability to make independent decisions) of individuals and protects those with diminished autonomy (e.g., those who are young, ill, mentally disabled, etc.). Respect for persons requires that individuals enter into research voluntarily and with adequate information.

Rotterdam Convention: An international agreement to promote shared responsibilities in relation to importation of hazardous chemicals. The Convention creates legally binding obligations for the implementation of the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure. The PIC procedure provides all Parties with an opportunity to make informed decisions as to whether they will consent to future imports of the chemicals listed in Annex III of the Convention. All Parties are required to ensure that their exports do not take place contrary to an importing Party’s import decision.

Satellite: A manufactured object or vehicle intended to orbit the earth, the moon, or another celestial body.

Satellite geometry: The position of the satellites in the sky relative to your position on earth. The best satellite geometry is one satellite overhead with the others spread evenly around the horizon. See Dilution of Precision. source: Letham, Lawrence. 2003 GPS Made Easy. Rocky Mountain Books, Calgary, Canada.

Scale: The relationship between distance on a map and on the Earth's surface usually represented as a ratio (for example, 1:10,000) or with a graph scale.

Scale mapping is a more sophisticated method of sketch mapping, aimed at generating geo-referenced data to facilitate discussions and allow community members to develop maps that can stand the scrutiny of adversarial parties. The method is based on effective selection of symbols and colours for depicting indigenous spatial knowledge on transparencies superimposed on a geo-coded and scaled map (source: Mapping for Change, Participatory Learning and action, PLA, Vol. 54. IIED 2006).

Scaling: Scaling is the act of measuring, arranging or adjusting according to a scale. (source: WordNet, Princeton University,

Scanner: (‘optical scanner’; not a radio receiver scanning frequencies, nor a medial scanner, nor a desktop or photogrammetric scanner): An electro-optical remote sensor with a scanning device. The most widely used scanning device is a moving mirror. Most scanners are multispectral scanners. A laser scanner is also an optical scanner, but a monochromatic one and an active sensor. An office scanner or a photogrammetric scanner converts a hardcopy document, map, or photo to a digital image.

Scientific knowledge: Cognizance of a fact or phenomenon acquired through scientific method. Four factors are essential to the classification of an item of information as scientific knowledge: (1) independent and rigorous testing, (2) peer review and publication, (3) measurement of actual or potential rate of error, and (4) degree of acceptance within the scientific community. (source:

Sensor: In the context of this book: An instrument that detects and records EM energy. An active sensor is a device that generates itself the radiation it senses. A passive sensor detects radiation of an external source (solar, or terrestrial, or atmospheric radiation).

Shorthand: The process of abbreviating words and using symbols to record notes with greater speed.

Sideshot: A sideshot is a short branch or spur made with a compass to accurately record an important feature located a short distance to one side of a survey route. (source: Flavelle, Alix. 2002. Mapping Our Land. Lone Pine Foundation, Edmonton, Canada).

Slope distance: A distance measured on sloping terrain that has not yet been converted to horizontal distance for plotting on a survey drawing or map. (source: Flavelle, Alix. 2002. Mapping Our Land. Lone Pine Foundation, Edmonton, Canada).

Smart phone: A mobile phone with advanced capabilities, such as e-mail and internet. Some have built-in GPS and navigation software.

Stakeholder: Individuals or organizations that have influence over the outcome of a project or process, and/or will be affected by it.

Sketch map: A method for mapping on paper. A drawing of a place or area, not drawn with accurate or measured scale or direction. Features are depicted by the use of natural materials or more frequently by coloured marker pens or chalk. Participants usually have a range of choices regarding what materials to use for the drawing and how to visualise desired items. Features are exaggerated in size to match the importance participants attach to them. If properly facilitated, the process is documented and records are kept in terms of the keys necessary for interpreting depicted symbols. The lack of a consistent scale and geo-referencing of the data leaves room for subjective interpretation of the final map. A scale sketch map is a sketch given scale by fitting it onto a topographic map without a field survey (source: Mapping for Change, Participatory Learning and action, PLA, Vol. 54. IIED 2006).

Social-ecology: Social ecology is the study of the relationships among individuals, social groups and their environments. In the context of mapping, social ecology refers to the social rules or governance of human behaviour in relation to the ecosystem where a community is related. The rights and responsibilities (e.g. constraints on usage) that are required to sustain an ecosystem and its services can be termed “social ecology” and identifying them is usually the aim of a participatory mapping exercise. (source:

Spatial data: In the broad sense, spatial data is any data with which position is associated.

Spatial information (also known as geographic information): Spatial information is any information that can be geographically referenced, i.e. information that describes a location or can be linked to a location. (source: ANZLIC, glossary

Spatial resolution: The degree to which an image can differentiate spatial variation of terrain features. Sometimes it is specified in the image space as pixel size, or lines per millimetre (lp/mm) for photographs. More relevant for applications is the specification in object space as ground sampling distance (GSD), or ground resolution cell size as determined by the IFOV.

Spatial Information Technologies = Geographic Information Technologies.

Spectral band: The interval of the EM spectrum to which the detector of a sensor is sensitive. The detector averages the spectral radiances within this range. A ’broadband sensor’ such as the panchromatic camera of WorldView-1 averages per pixel the spectral response in the wavelength range from 0.4 to 0.9 m.

Spectral resolution: The degree to which the spectral response of a sensor is differentiated; specified as spectral band width.

Spot elevation: A point on a map where height above mean sea level is noted, usually by a dot and elevation value; it is shown wherever practical (road intersections, summits, lakes, large flat areas and depressions). (source:

Station: A starting point or endpoint of a survey leg. Stations are where measurements of distance and bearings are taken and recorded, along with any relevant notes. The stations within each surveying project are sequentially numbered for identification. (source: Flavelle, Alix. 2002. Mapping Our Land. Lone Pine Foundation, Edmonton, Canada).

Stereo: Short for stereoscopic. Stereoscopic viewing gives a three-dimensional impression. Stereoscopy is the science of producing three-dimensional visual models using two-dimensional images. We can make use of stereoscopy to make 3D measurements of objects.

Stereo pair: A pair of overlapping photos or images that (partially) cover the same area from a different position. When appropriately taken, stereo pairs form a stereo model that can be used for stereoscopic vision and stereoplotting.

Surveying: To traverse a particular linear feature (such as a boundary or a river), or travel in some specific pattern across a particular area, with the purpose of recording the locations of features on the land and details about them for use in making a map. A compass survey is done with a compass and metre tape; a GPS survey is done with a GPS receiver. (source: Flavelle, Alix. 2002. Mapping Our Land. Lone Pine Foundation, Edmonton, Canada).

Survey chain: A surveying tool that consists of a nylon rope on which every tenth of a metre is marked by a metal clip. (source: Flavelle, Alix. 2002. Mapping Our Land. Lone Pine Foundation, Edmonton, Canada).

SWOT Analysis: It is a management tool used for strategy formulation. It is used to identify strong and weak points within an organisation and to analyse opportunities and threats towards further development. SWOT is an acronym with stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. (source: Groenendijk, 2001).

SWOT Matrix: The SWOT Matrix illustrates how external opportunities and threats facing a particular organisation can be matched with that organisation’s internal strengths and weaknesses to result in four sets of possible strategic alternatives. (source: Groenendijk, 2001).

Symbols: Something that represents something else by association, resemblance, or convention, especially a material object used to represent something invisible (source:

Table-top mapping: The drawing of a map – or the addition of thematic information to an existing base map- using information from memory or from remote sensing or photographs or notes, rather than while actually out on the land doing a field survey. Term used by Doug Aberley in: Boundaries of Home: Mapping for Local Empowerment. New Society Publishers. Canada (source: Flavelle, Alix. 2002. Mapping Our Land. Lone Pine Foundation, Edmonton, Canada).

Tacit Knowledge: Tacit knowledge is knowledge of which we are not immediately aware, and on which we base our day-to-day actions. This type of knowledge can be elicited through in-depth discussions and interactive exercises and by using three-dimensional models. Tacit knowledge is known by an individual and is difficult to communicate. Knowledge that is easy to communicate is called explicit knowledge. The process of transforming tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge is known as codification or articulation.

Target group In LFA-styled planning methods, the target group is the group of people who are going to undertake the actions in the plan. The assumption is that problems are not really resolved by outsiders coming and doing things for or to communities; development work requires empowerment of local people who are going to act on their own problems and solve them with support from technical intermediaries or other forms of solidarity. (source: Nigel Crawhall).

Technologies consist of widespread patterns of material and conceptual practices that embody and deploy particular strategic values and meanings (Hershock 1999). Technologies are complex systems promoting and institutionalising relational patterns aimed at realizing particular ends. Technologies cannot be value neutral, and do not occur in isolation from one another but in families or lineages (Shrader-Frechette and Westra 1997; Hershock 1999). Quote from Mapping Power: 2004 Fox et al.).

Terrain features: Land cover, all kind of topographic objects that coincide with the ground surface or ‘stick out’ (the roads, buildings, trees, water bodies, etc.), and any other characteristics of terrain except terrain relief.

Texture: A visual surface property; the word stems from weaving. Texture as an interpretation element expresses the spatial arrangement of tonal differences in an image.

Thematic map: A simple map made to reflect a particular theme about a geographic area. Thematic maps can portray physical, social, political, cultural, economic, sociological, agricultural, or any other aspects of a city, state, region, nation, or continent. A thematic map is designed to serve some special purpose or to illustrate a particular subject, in contrast to a general map, on which a variety of phenomena are appear together, such as landforms, lines of transportation, settlements, and political boundaries. The contrast between general and thematic maps isn't altogether sharp. But thematic maps use the base data as coastlines, boundaries and places, only as point of reference for the phenomenon being mapped.

Theodolite: A tool consisting of a compass and a level mounted on a tripod. Highly accurate, a theodolite is used by Certified Land Surveyors and road engineers.

Tie-point: A surveying term for a reference point that “ties” a set of relative locations to another, or to an absolute location on a map grid.

Tools are products of technological processes. They are used by individual persons, corporations, or nations, and are evaluated based on their task-specific utility. If tools do not work, we exchange them, improve them, adapt them, or discard them (source: Fox et al., 2004).

Tools and techniques are particular ways of operating a method. Whether something is defined a s a method or a tool is often debatable; the boundaries are not sharp. A ranking exercise, for example, can involve drawing a matrix in the sand and using pebbles or stones as counters, or be conducted on a sheet of paper using stickers or markers. Similarly a farm visit in which farmers’ problems are discussed can be conducted in various modes (persuasive, participatory, counselling, etc.) (source: Leeuwis, 2004).

Topographic feature: Topographic features on a map represent the natural features of the earth’s surface; they represent relief. Those features collectively form a “model” of the surface. (source: Surdex Corporation and Mimi Hu

Topography: Topography means the configuration of a surface and the relations among its man-made and natural features or a precise, detailed study of the surface features of a region. (source: Word Net

Topographic map: A contour map that shows human-made and natural physical features. (source: Flavelle, Alix. 2002. Mapping Our Land. Lone Pine Foundation, Edmonton, Canada).

Topology: Topology is a mathematical procedure for explicitly defining spatial relationships. Topology expresses different types of spatial relationships as features (e.g. polygons for areas and lines for linear features). (source: Surdex Corporation

Toponym: A toponym is a specific name given to a specific place (e.g. Mau Forest, London, Nzima Springs, Amazonas, Ogue River, Colosseum, Kenya). It is a label that can convey an embedded culture and history. Toponyms can be contentious and they can change over time. Sometimes multiple toponyms can be given to a single place at any one time. A toponym can be associated to a point, a line or a polygon. (source: Answers.Com

Toponymy: Toponymy refers to the scientific study of place-names, their origins, meanings, use and typology. The first part of the word is derived from Greek tópos (τόπος) for “place”, followed by ónoma (ὄνομα) for “name”. (source: Wikipedia

Tenure mapping: this refers to a distinct genre of cartography that seems to have its roots in the cartographic evidence assembled in the early 1970s by Inuit and Cree in Quebec. This method was soon adopted by the Inuit throughout the Canadian Arctic and is now a mandatory element of over 50 territorial negotiations under way in British Columbia. Tenure mapping is about the past; asset allocation mapping is about the future (source: Peter Poole).

Tracing paper: A lightweight and translucent drawing paper that allows the copying of images that can be seen through it.

Traditional knowledge: Traditional knowledge is a collection of experiences, practices and beliefs about the relationship of living things (including humans) with one another and with their environment, which is handed down through generations by cultural transmission. While such knowledge generally relies on oral tradition, the process of participatory mapping can formally document this information in a cartographic format through ethnographic surveys, oral histories and local informant interviews. The documentation of traditional knowledge is related to anthropological research in that it involves asking individuals for information in a systematic way according to Western scientific principles of gathering and verifying data.

Transect: Surveying in a straight line across the land, usually for the purpose of mapping or recording information along the line. Transects are often conducted for a resource inventory (source: Flavelle, Alix. 2002. Mapping Our Land. Lone Pine Foundation, Edmonton, Canada).

Transect diagramming: The Transect is a cross section through the community that describes typical natural and manmade context, pattern, and characteristics of the geographic areas in the community. It provides more information about the pattern and form of areas complementing Land Use designations, and Community Design; Neighbourhood, District, and Character; and Mobility Elements. (source: Town of Mammoth Lakes Appendix B

Transect sketch: A sketch map made by observing and drawing the features seen on both sides of the route as the map maker performs a transect. It can be from a bird’s-eye perspective or a profile perspective. (source: Flavelle, Alix. 2002. Mapping Our Land. Lone Pine Foundation, Edmonton, Canada).

Transect walk: A transect walk is a walk taken by participants and facilitator through the area of interest, observing, asking, listening, looking, identifying different zones, seeking problems and possible solutions. The finding are documented and they can be mapped on to a transect diagram or map. (source: FAO).

Triangulation: A survey technique to find the location of an ‘unknown’ position on a map by using bearings to (or from) three known locations. (source: Flavelle, Alix. 2002. Mapping Our Land. Lone Pine Foundation, Edmonton, Canada).

Traverse: A survey done by walking along the ground with a compass and metre tape. The four types used in community mapping are linear, boundary (closed), grid, and radial. (source: Flavelle, Alix. 2002. Mapping Our Land. Lone Pine Foundation, Edmonton, Canada).

Type line: The outline (boundary) of a polygon drawn on a map. (source: Flavelle, Alix. 2002. Mapping Our Land. Lone Pine Foundation, Edmonton, Canada).

UPS (Universal Polar Stereographic): A common map projection and grid system for the polar regions (poleward of 80o S and 84o N) that is used in conjunction with the Universal Transverse Mercator grid.

Unconscious knowledge is characterised by perceptions/motives that we are not aware of.

Unit: A Unit is the content taught in a single session. Each Unit has a given duration which may range from one to three hours.

UTM (Universal Transverse Mercator): A common map projection and grid system for the part of the Earth’s surface between 84oN and 80oS that is widely used for topographic maps, air (aerial) photographs and satellite images. It divides the earth into 60 zones each 6o wide. Each zone is identified by a unique number-letter code, such as 28S that are further subdivided and coded.

UNCBD: UNCBD is an acronym for the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.

UNCCD: UNCCD is an acronym for the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. UNCCD is officially the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa. It is a convention to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought through national action programmes that incorporate long-term strategies supported by international cooperation and partnership arrangements. (source: See the home page:

UNFCCC: UNFCCC is the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. It is an international environmental treaty produced at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), informally known as the Earth Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro from 3 to 14 June 1992. The treaty is aimed at stabilising greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. (source: and

Values: Deeply held views about what is desirable, right, or important.

Vector Image (/map): Vector is a data structure used to store spatial data. Vector data are comprised of lines or arcs, defined by beginning and end points, which meet at nodes. The locations of these nodes and the topological structure are usually stored explicitly. Features are defined by their boundaries only and curved lines are represented as a series of connecting lines. A vector-based GIS is defined by the vectorial representation of its geographic data. According with the characteristics of this data model, geographic objects are explicitly represented and, within the spatial characteristics, the thematic aspects are associated. (source:

Vellum: High quality tracing paper used in drafting.

Vertical exaggeration Vertical exaggeration (VE) is a scale that is used in raised-relief maps, plans and technical drawings (i.e. cross-section perspectives). The exaggeration is used to emphasise vertical features, which might be too small to identify relative to the horizontal scale. (source:

Visual approximation: This is a process where map readers or map makers make an approximation of a position of an object – or important feature, or an area of the object – just by looking at the feature on the map and plotting that feature digitally in relation to other existing features. It also refers to mapping of the new objects by mentally deducing the position and size of the object in relation to mapped features.

Waypoint: A surveying term used to describe a ‘position fix’ (the coordinates) of a place, especially if determined through the use of a GPS receiver. The waypoints in any given surveying project are sequentially numbered. (source: Flavelle, Alix. 2002. Mapping Our Land. Lone Pine Foundation, Edmonton, Canada).

WAAS (Wide Area Augmentation System): Real-time DGPS corrections transmitted by satellites for use by receivers in North America. WAAS increases GPS receiver accuracy from 15 m to 3 m.

Web 2.0 refers to a perceived second generation of web development and design, that facilitates communication, secure information sharing, interoperability, and collaboration on the World Wide Web. Web 2.0 concepts have led to the development and evolution of web-based communities, hosted services, and applications; such as social-networking sites, online mapping applications, video-sharing sites, wikis, and blogs.

Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS): The WAAS provides real-time DGPS corrections transmitted by satellites for use by receivers in North America. WAAS increases GPS receiver accuracy from 15 m to 3 m.

Wisdom is a deep understanding of people, things, events or situations, empowering the ability to choose or act to consistently produce optimum results with a minimum of time and energy. Wisdom is the ability to effectively and efficiently apply perceptions and knowledge to produce the desired results. Wisdom is the comprehension of what is true or right coupled with optimum judgment as to the appropriate action. (source: Wikipedia

Wiki: a Web site that allows collaborative editing of its content and structure by its users. The term was originally coined by a computer programmer Ward Cunningham from Hawaiian wiki-wiki ‘quick-quick.’

Source: CTA. 2010. Training Kit on Participatory Spatial Information Management and Communication. CTA, The Netherlands and IFAD, Italy (ISBN: 978-92-9081-446-7)