5 August :Managing forests in today’s ever-changing world is becoming an increasingly complex and demands challenge. Plans, resource considerations, and business decisions are made in an atmosphere of often-conflicting values and with considerable and uncertainness. Especially with availability of high resolution satellite Imagery from Indian Remote Sensing Satellite-IRS, IKONOS (Development of Space Segment and Ground Segment of Commercial Remote Sensing Satellite now known as IKONOS), Quick bird & advanced Remote Sensing and Geographic Information System- GIS Technologies, the ability to design options for prevention, intervention, and recovery has become tasks for excellence.
In such circumstances, Geographic Information System (GIS) significantly enhances the ability to visualize and analyze what is located where and why it is a vital input to planning and management of forests. It is fast becoming the common integrating element in implementation of several initiatives in our country that require participation of Indian Forestry Services Officers at various levels of planning, implementation and monitoring of this initiatives. They include besides others, Forest Land and Record Management, Eco-tourism Development, Joint Forest Planning Management (JFPM), Sustainable Use of Natural Forests, Change and Disaster Management. Forest Fires Analysis are covered at length. It also aims to bring up, for discussion, approaches and factors influencing successful GIS implementation.
Forest Resource Evaluation & Preparation of Management Plans
The use of satellite technology for assessing forest cover and growing stock is already in vogue in the country. The launching of IRS-IC satellite in September 1997, which generates Panchromatic data with 5.8m resolution and Linear Imagery Self Scanner-LISS III data with 23.5m resolution can be used for production of 1:25,000 scale maps and other data of growing stock, crown cover, area under major species, degraded areas etc. Moreover, the launch of IRS-P5 (Cartostat) has a cutting edge technology in terms of sensor systems and will provide state-of-the-art PAN camera with about 2.5m resolution with stereo capability. This satellite will provide cadastral level information and will be useful for making 2.5m contour maps. Using the merged product of various IRS datasets one can create 1:10000 scale maps for sensitive areas.
Regeneration Plantation Activities
The forest departments and corporations undertake plantation/regeneration/soil conservation etc. activities in areas worked by it or the contractors/corporations. Here MIS/GIS can be helpful in proper planning and monitoring of the works. Damages caused by fire, insect attack, grazing etc. can be quickly assessed by application GIS and preventive measures adopted. Early and cost effective steps can be taken to protect or replant the area.
Harvesting of Timber & North-West Forest Parks
GIS of each timber lot can ensure timely positioning of staff and labour, felling, conversion (especially in hilly terrain) & helpful in planning extraction routes, location of forest depots and shortest road transport to local supply and sale depots.
MIS – GIS Development
The vital areas requiring computerization on a standard format / model from data available in Range. Division and working plan record as well as Forest Survey of India- FSI, Wildlife Institute of India- WII, Indian Council of Forestry, Research and Educations- ICFRE etc. to build up data banks from Beat, Range and Division upwards for networking with PCCF, Forestry institutes and I.G. office covering following important sectors.
Recorded forest & status of boundaries and notifications, stratified vegetative cover, forest types. Degraded area, encroachments, national parks, sanctuaries, areas affected by forest fires and grazing – plantation areas by species & age class, regeneration areas (success and failures), soil conservation, pasture development, ecologically fragile areas etc.
Forest Resources & Utilization
Growing stock, increment & yield figures for timber, fuel wood, fodder & grass, non-wood forest products for local use/safe. Yield trend under various treatments. Demand supply gap – past 10 years.
Wild Life Management
List of National Parks and sanctuaries (Pas), Area gross & recorded forest, type of forest, crown cover, grassland, and water bodies.
Joint Forest Management
For each Village Forest Protection and Management Committee (VFPMCs): The number of members, the name and duration of each executive member, meetings held. Population, livestock, demand destiny, land use / land cover, proximity to villages, and relevant criterion could provide vital information on prioritization of JFM villages.
Number of central and state research institutes, local universities and international collaborating institutes. Scientists by level and specialization and professional foresters, core research areas and sphere of work.
In view of these emerging trends of extensive use in land-use management at District and State levels, it is time for foresters to use satellite imagery based Geographical Information System (GIS) to get comprehensive, fairly accurate updates spatial data of the ground situation to help in the planning process.
A combination of GIS & GPS coupled with low intensity (0.1 to 1%) can give more than 90% accurate data e.g. type of crop, species composition of plantation, area figures, density (0 to 10, 10-40 40-70, 70 & up), slope, aspects, administrative boundaries along with updated maps, and even growing stock data for preparation of working plans for forests and management plan for protected areas & even micro-plans for JFM areas.
Various attributes data of local human & cattle population, local needs, availability of degraded forests and community areas fit for afforestation can be incorporated and updated from time to time.
Change analysis as well as monitoring and evaluation can be easily done from time to time very objectively, at beat, range and divisional level, by comparing spatial data from year to year.
The acquisition of this database in spatial format has its merit and more hidden geographic relationships can be explored and discovered on the real world problems, which are mostly geographic in nature. Database created for both MIS and GIS at the divisional level can be stored in the central server for dissemination for long long periods.