Automated production of spatial datasets for land categories from historical maps. Method development and results for a pilot study of Danish late-1800s topographical maps.

Gregor Levin, Geoffrey Brian Groom, Stig Roar Svenningsen, Mads Linnet Perner

Research output: Book/ReportReportResearchpeer-review


This report records the methods and the results of a pilot project aimed at automated production of machine-readable spatial datasets for land categories from Danish topographical maps from the late 1800s. The study was undertaken for two study areas in Jutland, covering around 300 km². Target land categories were: heath, sand dune, wetland, forest and water bodies. The automated geo-data production comprised a combination of object based image analysis, vector GIS, colour segmentation and machine learning processes. Results of an accuracy assessment indicate accuracies that for most categories are around 90 % or higher. A change assessment for the period from the late 1800s until today, revealed a dynamic characterised by decrease in open habitat types due to cultivation and afforestation. We conclude, that automated production of LULC category digital geo-data from historical maps offers a less time consuming and consequently more resource efficient alternative to traditional manual vectorisation
Original languageEnglish
PublisherAarhus University, DCE – Danish Centre for Environment and Energy
Number of pages121
ISBN (Print)978-87-7156-511-9
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sept 2020
SeriesScientific Report from DCE – Danish Centre for Environment and Energy


  • Historical maps
  • Topographic maps
  • Landscape changes
  • IALE 2022 European Landscape Ecology Congress

    Stig Roar Svenningsen (Organizer), Dominik Kaim (Organizer), Gregor Levin (Speaker), Geoff Groom (Organizer), Krzysztof Ostafin (Organizer) & Catalina Munteanu (Organizer)

    12 Jul 2022

    Activity: Participating in or organising an eventOrganisation of and participation in conference

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