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Discussion: the new vegetation boundary symbol

in: Orienteering; General

Jan 27, 2021 11:19 PM # 
Is everybody familiar with the new vegetation boundary symbol, or at least somebody?
Does it help if I say ISOM 2017 416, the green dashed line option?

I'm not looking to debate anything, just trying to assess the awareness level of the US O public (A meet attendees) with this symbol.
I don't recall noticing any maps using this symbol. I certainly haven't seen all maps, but I think I can claim more than my share of what's available online.

The situation is we (DVOA) have an A meet map which was on track to be debuted in 2020, and we anticipate using it in the near future, when the COVID situation permits.

Within this map, is a prime use section, which would seem to be the exact situation for which this symbol was created.
It has many distinct and detailed vegetation boundaries in the midst of many other black details (trails, man-made objects, and many rock symbols including stony ground).

The question is, will use of this green dash symbol go over seamlessly, or will it create confusion?

Be aware, whichever symbol is used, must be used everywhere on a given map.

For purposes of this discussion, please assume no pre-meet notes (they never effectively address anything important) and no model map (I don't want to impose a commitment on anybody).
Jan 27, 2021 11:29 PM # 
Can you post an image (map snippet) that shows the two options?
Jan 27, 2021 11:31 PM # 
This is a new map.

...and I'm not looking to debate appropriateness.
I'm trying to assess awareness of the symbol.
Jan 27, 2021 11:39 PM # 
I'm familiar with it, but only because I've run on maps in Europe that used it.
Jan 27, 2021 11:46 PM # 
I'm familiar with it but I'm not your usual case I've read the ISOM 2017 document very carefully. I've also used the symbol on some of my maps in the last few years.
Jan 27, 2021 11:50 PM # 
I'm familiar with it due to its inclusion in the OOM symbol set but have not used it myself, nor have I seen it on any map I've run on. Like you say, its one symbol or the other, not both/mixed, so if I did see it on a map, I don't think it would cause any confusion for me.
Jan 27, 2021 11:51 PM # 
Jan 28, 2021 12:06 AM # 
Pink Socks:
I'm familiar, because I make maps and read the specs.

Possible hijack: who's responsible for communicating rule changes to athletes?
Jan 28, 2021 12:31 AM # 
Eric, I tend to agree with you on premeet notes, but in this particular situation it seems a case where it would be good to mention it, as it is a symbol that many will be unaware of. And if they don't know about it, they could easily assume the dark green dashes mean some sort of trail.

if the only premeet info is a single paragraph about this symbol there is much more chance people will notice it - rather than the info being lost in the usual pages of useless waffle.
Jan 28, 2021 12:45 AM # 
Rob, not ruling it out any options, but would like to keep the discussion on awareness.

Certainly agree on the strategy re meet notes, although I never heard the term "waffle" in this context, but it translates easily.. :-)
Jan 28, 2021 12:55 AM # 
I'm aware of it but the vegetation boundary symbol is *extremely* rare on our local maps so we've not used it.

Waffling is what orienteers do best, particularly when discussing rules and map symbols.
Jan 28, 2021 1:19 AM # 
I recently became aware of the new symbol. The newest version of the Dater Mountain map by Greg Balter uses the symbol (follow the link to maps from here - this link may disappear after March 2021). It appears a few times in the southeast portion of the map to the northeast of the Finish circle. Note that the black dot vegetation symbol is also used (along the gas pipeline right of way), perhaps because the map is an update in progress. I did not notice the green dash veg boundaries while running on this map but saw them afterwards and correctly guessed their meaning, helped by the light green area bordered by the symbol. Somewhat off topic, but the black dots are more visible to me than the dashed green, although in rocky areas I think I'd appreciate having green dashes rather than black dots.
Jan 28, 2021 1:24 AM # 
New to me.
Jan 28, 2021 1:27 AM # 
Use it quite a bit. As a placeholder to note something on the base map that has to be checked out by fieldwork.
Jan 28, 2021 1:46 AM # 
New to me.
Jan 28, 2021 2:07 AM # 
Was not aware, but sounds easy to figure out. The idea of a "single paragraph" in the meet notes is good.
Jan 28, 2021 2:12 AM # 
I did not know this existed, but, as people have said, a paragraph in the meet notes would have been all I needed if I didn't now know
Jan 28, 2021 2:26 AM # 
This is the first I've heard of it. Seems easy enough to adapt to, and you could do something else that I've seen on occasion: at one of the callup lines (I'm assuming there will be a bunch of otherwise pointless callup lines), have a map snippet on a string with a note about the symbol.

(It's unfortunate that the Dater Mountain example uses both symbols. That would confuse people, I think.)
Jan 28, 2021 2:59 AM # 
If I understand correctly, robplow's original suggestion was to limit the meet notes to a single paragraph, which would be this subject only, not a single paragraph within the meet notes, which the later comments seem to describe and endorse.
Jan 28, 2021 3:43 AM # 
I was not aware of this new symbol. Personally, if it were mentioned in meet, mapper's, or coursesetter's notes I would notice it there. I usually read them several times over before an event and discuss them with travel companions, but maybe I'm weird? I've attended plenty of past meets which have mentioned symbol changes or non-standard mapping in the notes. (I also don't see how the notes could possibly ever be just a single paragraph about a mapping change.)
Jan 28, 2021 3:53 AM # 
You're not weird though I'd be inclined to change my opinion if it were future meets you'd attended.
Jan 28, 2021 3:54 AM # 
I'm aware of the new symbol, but also think it's relatively intuitive. Why not just have a legend entry on the map? Like how sometimes we define the prominent man made features on maps.
Jan 28, 2021 4:09 AM # 
Use it, Eric. How else is anything new going to get into competitor consciousness?

There were other changes in ISOM2017, I doubt if many participants round here read the tailored advice we prepared for them, but that's their problem.
Jan 28, 2021 5:43 AM # 
News to me.
What was the rationale for this change?
Jan 28, 2021 5:56 AM # 
Black dots may be confused with stony ground in certain parts of the world (like in Aus, e.g. along ridgelines).
Jan 28, 2021 6:13 AM # 
Yep, classic example here of what gruver implies about providing the comms doesn't mean they're read. I hadn't seen that link before, I rarely explore the ONZ website as opposed to using it to check on specific info.

But: apart from the green vegetation boundary, (this thread was the first I've heard of it), everything on the link was either already known to me or would make immediate sense if I saw it on a map without prior notice (probably already have in some cases and was so intuitive I didn't even register it as 'different'). Blue stars and squares still come as a surprise, but all I really need to know is that they are some sort of water feature. And I think context would explain the vegetation boundaries but somehow it doesn't seem quite as intuitive as the others, so...

[to return to the actual intended point of this thread for a moment :-) ]

...prior notice for any significant race on a map that uses the symbol for a period in which it will be new to experienced orienteers would be better than not (perhaps about a year under normal circumstances? whatever that equates to in these times!).

What did surprise me are a couple of things that I thought had 'always' been in the standards: using rocky/stony etc symbol density to indicate actual density, and olive green for residential (I had thought that even though we predominantly used black striping for any out of bounds in NZ, the intent was that the green is for stuff that 'looks' out of bounds in the real world and black striping is for no go places that might not look very different from the surrounding terrain)

Good to have clarification about paths & roads through the OOB green too.
Jan 28, 2021 7:01 AM # 
Aside - there are some country-specific things in that link above. So turn to the advice that your national body provided for you four years ago. Didn't it?
Jan 28, 2021 7:47 AM # 
In my experience (seems to be confirmed by gruver's posts) orienteers - and that includes many elites - don't keep up with mapping changes, so I would definitely do a pre-meet note. But also in my experience, not many people will read it!
Jan 28, 2021 12:30 PM # 
Now that you know about the symbol give it a try.
They have done a good job separating symbol size and shade of green from anything else on the symbol palate.
Where would I use it? If I wanted to distinguish an open pine plantation from an open hardwood forest I'd prefer to use the green dashes over the black dots. It just looks more vegetation related.
Jan 28, 2021 12:33 PM # 
Use it on your map.
Jan 28, 2021 12:42 PM # 
I’m aware of it, the symbol will start being used on other maps eventually so why not use it now. Especially if it makes the map more legible.
Jan 28, 2021 1:10 PM # 
I'm in agreement, a useful symbol like this needs to get a start somewhere. So go ahead and use it.

Eric and I have discussed in the past the idea that meet notes should ideally be nonexistent. An orienteering meet shouldn't bring any surprises, and if there's something so odd that you need to mention it, maybe you're doing something wrong. But event organizers often seem to think that they need to write something, so they rattle on about a bunch of stuff that's not very important or out of the ordinary. (The worst of these is "Be sure to check the control codes, because there are a lot of controls out there". Duh.) The result is that meet notes often get ignored because there's a lot of fluff to wade through.

So it would be better if meet notes were limited to the really important stuff that does vary between meets, like:
- How far is it to the start, and how you get there
- Map scale
- Course lengths, I guess
But those last two should really be in the meet invitation. And I'll suggest that the use of the new vegetation symbol should be as well, it's something that people can have the chance to look at well in advance, and it can get a conversation going about it (a conversation that won't reach everybody, but it can help).

I'll repeat my suggestion about having a map sample in the start area (it doesn't have to be a piece from the actual map). Putting it on a legend is nice, but there's really not time to be unfolding the map to look at a legend during a race.
Jan 28, 2021 1:46 PM # 
I was aware of the symbol - it was used on some map that I was looking at or ran on, I can't remember - but I had totally forgotten about it.
Jan 28, 2021 7:33 PM # 
The Changes to Our Maps posting provided by the gruver link Mapping Changes For NZ Orienteers – June 2017 states: Vegetation boundary
2017-mapping-changes vegetation boundary
The mapper may use either black dots or a green dashed line. There will be only one type of vegetation boundary on each map.

Whereas, the GlenT link to the Dater Mountain map by Greg Balter uses BOTH symbols on the SAME map.
Jan 28, 2021 8:46 PM # 
Used if you think it´s right for your terrain. Runners that are serious about the race will know the specification. And if they don´t know at get confused it´s their fault not yours. In my area there are some symbols like "open land with scattered trees" that many eople don´t know. But of course I use it if it´s the right symbol. Only thing I do is mention the used specification, cause we still have a lot of ISOM2000 maps around.
Jan 28, 2021 9:32 PM # 
Agree with that last sentence Steffen. And it applies to ISSOM/ISSprOM too.

And perhaps to the Ski-O spec. It will very likely apply to the MTBO spec when it comes out. There will be a long transition, particularly at lower level events.
Jan 29, 2021 12:12 AM # 
On the main topic, thanks for the feedback, and feel free to continue.

The decisions are not necessarily mine. There are others involved.
My only status is as the second pass mapper.
If my opinion is sought, I wanted it to be informed.
Jan 29, 2021 12:39 AM # 
On the hijacked topic of meet notes and related practices, which I wanted to avoid, we (DVOA) have no shortage of experienced people fully capable of debating and disagreeing on how to handle things, although I suppose this feedback might still be helpful.

I think JJ makes an important point introducing the term "meet invitation" as a far-in-advance publication to differentiate it from a last-minute publication which is what I would term "meet notes".
Whatever you call it, this "invitation" or meet publicity is a more appropriate place for "useless waffle", as well as short stories, and meet hype exaggerating the virtues of the terrain. :-)
If some important info is well hidden in the midst, no problem. At least people have plenty of time to read it, and mentally adjust.
Jan 29, 2021 2:49 AM # 
Agreed that people need to start getting used to it. As JJ suggested, whether you like "meet notes" or not, put a description in the original meet information or "Bulletins" as it would be called for an IOF event. Heck, we are still trying to get the typical national meet attendee to understand the sprint symbols of what is legally crossable and not, and various other recent symbol changes. When I set a national level sprint, I include a very short legend on the map of "Crossable" and "Forbidden to Cross" symbols, and that color legend piece is also in the participant's packet either on a model map or by itself if there's no separate model. Change doesn't happen overnight - within the last 3-5 years, I've seen a major event still use the pre-2004 control description symbols for single tree or copse.

As an aside, I'll add that among newcomers, the black dots are a frequent source of confusion; after all we describe black as being for "manmade and rock" features. Many times I've had a relative newcomer say "but I couldn't find this path" and point to a black dot vegetation boundary. So, IMHO, good riddance.
Jan 29, 2021 3:16 AM # 
I don't know how widespread this is but we have a "Fair Play" symbol that goes on all our sprint maps that includes examples of all features that are forbidden. Not a legend as such (though I think we typically do have a legend also) but just a picture that includes anything that's impassable (think it may now have to be updated for the stupid lightening of forbidden green though).
Jan 29, 2021 3:47 AM # 
tRicky we borrowed that logo from Victoria. They now have a useful page, but I can't find the logo.

To go back to Eric's original request, I'd say awareness of the symbol is minimal, both in the US and the rest of the world, but go ahead and use it because the amount of confusion it could cause is also minimal - and will be educational.
Jan 29, 2021 5:40 AM # 
The issue of confusion with stoney ground or small paths is concerning. What's also concerning, though, is that dashed symbols get obscured when used for very short lengths. I'm thinking about a small copse in rough open land that would be more visible if surrounded by tiny black dots, than a dashed green line.

If anyone has an example that would lessen that concern, please post it.
Jan 29, 2021 6:57 AM # 
Graphical generalisation (2.6 in ISOM 2017-2) allows you to exaggerate the size of the white area so that it shows up more clearly against the yellow. In any case, the copse will be readily visible on the ground so orienteers will look for a white patch on their map. if the copse is not immediately visible on the ground, then rough open will not have been the correct symbol to use for the larger area.

There should be no need to use a vegetation boundary to show trees within an open area.
Jan 29, 2021 10:48 AM # 
Didn't know it existed either. I quite like it, although what is strange is that it seems you can use either symbol now? Surely if the black dots are too confusing then make a wholesale switch to green dashes?

Is there any other situation where ISSOM offers a choice of symbols for the same thing?
Jan 29, 2021 10:55 AM # 
@Arnold, black dots are only too confusing when there are a lot of other black features. Similarly, green dashes would be confusing in an area that has lots of green features, like this bushy nightmare from JWOC 2018

The mapper needs to make the decision on what will provide the most clarity. If participants are unaware of a new symbol (that is over 4 years old), then adding it to the meet details is a good idea. I don't think you're alone in this, I'd guess most British people are unaware of this symbol. I don't think I've ever seen it used here, but I can think of some places where it may increase the clarity.

Jan 29, 2021 11:49 AM # 
Is there any other situation where ISSOM offers a choice of symbols for the same thing?

The passable wall symbol used to be interchangeable between grey or black with the dot. That's been resolved now though.
Jan 29, 2021 12:52 PM # 
Tom O:
To expand on Nixon's point: one of the limitations of the green dash symbol is that it will not show up very well if used to delineate a boundary where one of the objects is green/fight.

A second consideration is that the green dash is less visible against white or lighter green than the black dots. It does not stand out all that well when used to mark a boundary within white woods, particularly for aging eyes.

Just some things to consider when deciding which symbol to use.

As one of the other parties involved in the event Eric is referring too, this thread has been very helpful and I appreciate everyone's comments.
Jan 29, 2021 1:48 PM # 
In most cases, I think Distinct Vegetation Boundary can be left off of maps without any serious loss of utility. It's most important when showing a break between two kinds of white woods (e.g. hardwood to evergreen) that's very noticeable in the terrain. If the color changes between shades of green/yellow/white, it's often redundant or irrelevant. There used to be another symbol, Very Distinct Vegetation Boundary, that was a solid thin black line that I considered really stupid. (I saw it on a number of European maps, but I don't think I ever saw it used in the US.) There are often cases when taking something away makes the product better. Think about removing distinct vegetation boundaries, see if it makes the map less cluttered but no less useful to navigate with.
Jan 29, 2021 1:51 PM # 
416 Distinct vegetation boundary: a distinct forest edge or vegetation boundary WITHIN the forest. (My emphasis)

So an updated answer to GuyO is that no boundary is shown inside any open area.

I don't know the JWOC terrain shown by Nixon, but his description was 'bushy', which would lead me to believe that it is an open area with many bushes rather than 'forest', so once again - NO vegetation boundary symbol should be used.

The text goes on to say that the Distinct cultivation boundary symbol (415, solid black 0.14 line) can be used to show very distinct forest edges and vegetation boundaries. Orienteers would be familiar with this from ISSOM maps.
Jan 29, 2021 2:54 PM # 
Excellent point jjcote
Jan 29, 2021 3:19 PM # 
"In most cases, I think Distinct Vegetation Boundary can be left off of maps without any serious loss of utility."

I completely disagree. A distinct and indistinct boundary are very different things. The former can be used reliably as a control site and navigational aid. The later is a subtle transition between two disparate types of vegetation, you know when you're fully in it but the boundary is vague. These are two different things that I believe need to be on the map.

I agree that white-white veg boundaries are the most important. There is one example that springs to mind where a massive change from deciduous to coniferous woodland (that is clearly visable from aerial imagery) was left off the map, and we have a leg where then control was sited just the other side of it. A lot of people stopped early, very confused.

The issue I find the most is when a white-white veg change occours over a path/track/fence/wall. No boundary is on the map, but you can see this huge feature ahead of you in the terrain. That has caught me out a few times as well. You see the boundary way before you see the path and realise what is going on.
Jan 29, 2021 3:25 PM # 
And that thin black line very distinct boundary is still a symbol and used regularly, but only for edge of cultivated land and forest.
Jan 29, 2021 4:24 PM # 
Terrains vary, and it's quite possible that there are terrains that I haven't experienced where the symbol is more useful.
Jan 29, 2021 5:02 PM # 
I just had a look at our club's maps, and it's amazing how inconsistent the use of 'distinct veg boundary' is. Some maps have barely any, whereas other maps use the symbol for almost all (distinct) changes between white & yellow or green - so there's lots of it.

I'm assuming the former use (barely any) is correct - on the other hand I've run on the latter maps a lot, and never really noticed the profusion of unnecessary black dots.
Jan 29, 2021 6:18 PM # 
JJ, as Nixon says that thin black line is still around - always has been: 415 Distinct cultivation boundary in ISOM.

When I was mapping in Sweden in the late 80's I had it explained to me that the use of a thin black line for the edge of cultivated fields was really because the symbol was used an awful lot - (look at pretty much any Swedish map with fields on it) and a line is much easier to draw that dots, especially when you are scribing -which was very common practice in Sweden. The difficulty of drawing a dotted line disappears with digital drawing. In Australia you would almost never see it used - where a Swedish mapper would use the continuous line (415) an Australian mapper would use the dots (or dashes) 416.

I am also with you Nixon - the dotted (or dashed) vegetation boundary is a very useful symbol for distinguishing between a boundary that you can navigate by and one that is just a gradual change. eg: there is an important difference between a plain yellow to white boundary and a yellow - black dots - white boundary.

after all we describe black as being for "manmade and rock" features
In my experience the vast majority of distinct vegetation boundaries I have mapped ARE manmade features: due to forestry, agriculture, land clearing etc.
Jan 31, 2021 9:02 PM # 
I've used it on two recent maps.

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