Converting maps

When marine habitat maps are made, mapping scientists chose mapping units which are best suited to the purpose of the map, perhaps to describe broad-scale physical features or detailed biological information. The variety of reasons for mapping the seabed has resulted in an almost equal variety of mapping units used to make maps. In the context of marine habitat mapping these mapping units are called habitat classes. A defined set of habitat classes is known as a habitat classification scheme. The process of converting habitat classes from one classification to another has been called translation by the MESH Project. This section will explain the benefits and the feasibility and the technical aspects of translation, including a description of the processes by which it can be undertaken.
The MESH Project focussed on translating maps to the EUNIS classification scheme (European Union Nature Information System), because this is the only common classification scheme in Europe. When faced with an array of maps – often created for diverse purposes, and perhaps brought together by a data collation project – it is natural to want to use the maps to ask questions about the occurrence and extent of habitats that are of interest to you. Answering these questions is impossible without first converting maps to a common set of mapping units, or habitat classes. Translation is vital in marine habitat mapping to allow maps to be used to answer the widest range of possible questions.
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