GIS in biodiversity conservation - The technology trend
Spatial analytical capabilities of GIS allow quantifying all above parameters with the remote sensing based vegetation type map alone. Roy et al,
1996 have used GIS to characterise habitat of endangered animal, Mountain Goral,
using GIS for evaluating principles of landscape ecology. Ravan and Roy, 1998
have again proved potential of GIS in landscape ecology by mapping disturbance
zones in natural ecosystem and quantifying its impact on the biodiversity and
biomass accumulation along the disturbance gradient. GIS was used in this study
for quantifying patch sizes, shapes, porosity and patchiness of vegetation
types. GIS was also used to extrapolate results of ground based estimations such
as species richness, diversity index and biomass values.
The results of
above studies have assured the success in identifying bioprospecting zones for
conservation prioritization at regional level by making use of GIS, remote
sensing and landscape ecology. With the initiatives of Department of Space and
Department of Biotechnology, the concept of Landscape Ecology is being verified
in the biodiversity hot-spots of Western Ghats and Himalayas.
besides its contribution in scientific studies, has been accepted as the most
effective tool for decision-makers. Maharashtra Forest Department, under the
leadership of J.S. Grewal (Conservator of Forest) has established GIS for
forestry at Nagpur. GIS for forestry at Maharashtra is contributing in 4
different areas such as working plans, biodiversity, village ecodevelopment, and
plantation inventory for Forest Development Corporation. Similar efforts have
been put in by H.C. Mishra in Andhra Pradesh Forest Department. Many other state
governments are also making use of GIS for forest management, the results of
such efforts would be visible in near future.
NGO sectors such as
World Wide Fund for Nature-India (WWF-India) and Tata Energy Research Institute
(TERI) have also stepped in the biodiversity conservation efforts using GIS.
WWF-India has already computerised third edition of forest cover maps of FSI in
GIS environment. In addition, baseline database on important national
parks/sanctuaries are also developed. The attempts have also been made to link
taxonomic details of rare and endangered species to GIS database. All these NGOs
need the support from the custodians (generally govt. organisations) of primary
data on biodiversity.
Institutes working in the area of biodiversity conservation have started use of
GIS technology. Prominent among them is Wildlife Institute of India. Other
institutions are G.B. Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development,
Centre for Ecological Sciences (Indian Institute of Science), Kerala Forest
Research Institute, Gujrat Institute of Desert Ecology etc.
The above trends
give impression that Research Institutes, State Forest Departments, Central
Government Agencies such as FSI, and NGO Sector can put hands together to save
biodiversity, the most valuable resource, of the country.
The huge amount of databases being generated by various organisations needs to be structured for evolving information system for forest management. Such
information system is scientific tool for the forest managers to perform better
in the area of forest/wildlife management and biodiversity conservation.
Biodiversity characterisation at
landscape level using satellite remote sensing and GIS
A project sponsored by Department of Biotechnology and Department of Space (DOS). The experiences of the R&D work done at Indian Institute of
Remote Sensing, Dehradun has resulted into the nation-wide efforts of
identifying the bioprospecting areas for conservation. The objectives of
the project are
The project is being
executed in the Western Ghats and eastern and western Himalayas. DOS has
prepared project manual explaining standard methodology for execution of
the project. The project has made landmark contribution in the field of
GIS. The software ‘BIO_CAP’ has been customized over Arc/Info GIS and can
operate on different standardized databases. It provides facilities for
display, overlay, integration, analysis, statistics, modelling of
- preparation of biome/ecological zone maps
using satellite remote sensing data, incorporating topographical
details and biogeographical classification of India,
- Landscape characterisation to identify
disturbance gradient and
- prioritise area
(bioprospecting) for biodiversity conservation.
Phase I of the project is
implemented under coordination of Indian Institute of Remote Sensing,
Dehradun. The main organizations involved in the project are Natioanal
Remote Sensing Agency, Forest Survey of India, Wildlife Institute of
India, G.B. Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development,
Botanical Survey of India, French Institute (Pondicherry), Maharashtra
Remote Sensing Applications Centre, respective State Forest Departments
etc. The contact person is Dr. P.S. Roy, Dean, Indian Institute of Remote
Sensing, who is also Project Director.