Utilizing Amerindian hunters' descriptions to guide the production of a vegetation map

Anthony R. Cummings, Jane M. Read, Jose M.V. Fragoso

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Describing vegetation types is critical for managing natural resources and assessing ecosystem risk. Vegetation maps are historically produced by "Western experts," often ignoring local-level groups critical to resource management. Indigenous hunters, as resource managers, have strong connections to their landscapes and their descriptions of vegetation within their homelands can be useful in the map-making process. This project examined the usefulness of vegetation descriptions from Rupununi, Southern Guyana Indigenous hunters in the map-making process and how their descriptions were influenced by biophysical environmental attributes. A Landsat TM and ASTER DEM merged imagery of the Rupununi was classified using Indigenous hunters' vegetation descriptions to train the classification and assess accuracy. Based on the hunters' vegetation descriptions an eleven-class map was produced that covered the main vegetation types they described. Whereas "expert" maps rely on organized forest inventory data, Indigenous hunters' vegetation classifications were influenced by their interactions with the biophysical environment. The final map shows that Indigenous hunters may be important partners in the map-making process and play key roles in tropical forest management decision-making processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)118-142
Number of pages25
JournalInternational Journal of Applied Geospatial Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


  • Amerindians
  • Guyana
  • Indigenous Hunters
  • Process Cartography
  • Rupununi
  • Vegetation Map

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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