Keywords: GIS, mental maps, participation
Geographic information systems (GIS) for participation: the future of environmental GIS?
The conventional uses of geographic information systems (GIS) in environmental management have been criticized for being undemocratic and avoiding the social dimension of these issues. To address these criticisms, new participatory approaches are being developed by the GIS community. These new techniques involve the integration of conventional spatial data and mental maps showing communities' (or various groups') perceptions of their environment and how they use resources. Case studies using these new techniques highlight how GIS is being incorporated into participatory studies. The advantages and drawbacks of using GIS for participation are discussed, with the conclusion that the techniques provide a useful new approach for environmental management.