Cognitive Mapping of Rural Properties

In relation to development and land use projects there will often be a range of 'expert' geophysical, soil, hydrological, vegetation and heritage studies undertaken. These studies will be based on objective information and often will be undertaken independently of landowners and the extensive local knowledge they have about the characteristics of their properties.

In the process of better engaging landholders in project development and integrating 'local' knowledge with 'expert' knowledge, cognitive mapping has been used to better understand and integrate local knowledge about the landscape into project planning and development.

Imagine a situation in which a new development is proposed across a number of landholdings. A hydrological study is undertaken to identify flood contours, flood heights, velocities and flow patterns. In addition and concurrently with the hydrological study, local landholders are engaged to develop cognitive maps of the hydrology of their individual properties.

As one example of the cognitive mapping process, the map below shows an aggregate of the 35 individual cognitive maps of landholders which describe flow patterns. This aggregate map shows the flow patterns when a creek in the north and a river in the east both flood across properties.

While this information can be used to check the veracity of the hydrological study, it is useful information in its own right for the purposes of planning and development and engages landholders and community in project studies and assessments.

Environment & Behaviour Consultants - 3 Victoria Street - Townsville - 4810 Qld - AUSTRALIA - Tel (61) 07 47 722 544

Design by Adam Robinson