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Merging poligons which are within a defined distance from each other

Question asked by kkober on Jan 31, 2011
Hi all!
I guess my problem has quite an easy solution, however, I really cannot figure it out. So maybe anyone of you has got a good idea?

I've got a grid net (based on polygons, not lines). In this grid net, a number of grid cells is highlighted because they meet certain criteria. What I want to do now is to merge those highlighted polygons which are not more than one grid cell apart from each other. This should create either larger polygons (when grid cells were actually sharing a boundary) or multipart polygons (if grid cells were one grid cell apart).
I can do this the long way, which is (1) selecting a highlighted grid cell, (2) selecting other highlighted grid cells within a defined buffer distance and (3) merge them. However, since I've got hundreds and hundreds of highlighted grid cells to go throught this would take too much time. Is there a simpler methods of doing this e.g. to all highlighted grid cells within one shapefile at once (without mergin them all into one massice multipart poligon, but only merging those within a 1-gridcell distance)?
I'll attach a shapefile with the pure grid net and one shapefile with those poligons which are supposed to be highlighted, so you can play around...