Cultural mapping involves the identification and documentation of the, tangible and non-tangible, local cultural resources. Through this mapping the tangibles like artifacts, historical landmarks, craft industries, local events and industries are recoded. As well as the intangibles like social structures, personal history, collective memories, attitudes and values are also explored and a larger picture derived. Social mapping can be used to present information on village layout, infrastructure, demography, ethno-linguistic groups, health pattern, wealth and other social issues.

Cultural mapping is widely recognized as an effective tool for development and planning. A broadly-based mapping exercise for purposes of investigating or creating an identity profile of the community is enriching, informative and useful. Cultural assessment, or cultural audit, involves investigations into census databases, community profiling through surveys, interviews, and focus groups, ethnic profiling and profiling of tourism and leisure activities.

With the integration of a GIS, “Cultural Mapping” can be used to record cultural resources in a geographic, sociological, archaeological, genealogical, linguistic, topographical and even botanical”, attributes and would generally include information related to;

Making geographically accurate maps with GIS is technically more demanding but ultimately more useful when there is a long term interest in maintaining and diversifying the traditional knowledge data base that is gathered in the course of tenure mapping. However, the accuracy and extent of the GIS would be governed by issues the budgets, assessed needs and the ability to acquire data.

The process of mapping by itself draws attention to the existence and importance of cultural resources. The results can highlight strengths to build upon and point out problems to be solved. It also provides us with an objective insight into various influences within a community. However, community participatory mapping process requires discipline and judgment. It is therefore helpful to articulate the objective as clearly as possible and to have guidelines to fall back on. Scale and scope are important factors and it is advisable to take stock from time to time and be flexible within reason.

Typically speaking three subsystems compose the information support to the heritage system.

  • A central ‘Register of Heritage’ is created and when any new site of cultural heritage is discovered, it is registered here
  • A documentation sub-system is created where documentation collection and results of other investigation/research are stored
  • An administration subsystem is created – it has information support on formal decisions about protection, public financing and monitoring of heritage