Home Articles Applicability of geoinformation in Bahrain vegetation survey

Applicability of geoinformation in Bahrain vegetation survey

Dr. Khalid A.Rahman Al-Haidan
Director, GIS Directorate, Central Informatics Organization
Kingdomof Bahrain
E-mail: [email protected]

The GIS Directorate represents the centre of GIS in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Since the establishment of the GIS Directorate in 2002, in the new organisational structure, the Directorate is keen on undertaking and executing projects that reflect positively on the development of services provided to the general public. In a very short period of time, the Directorate managed a cohesive national geospatial database that contains a multitude of geospatial data layers. The national geospatial database has a direct influence on the success of the “Vegetation Survey by Satellite Remote Sensing Techniques”, which is a spatial representation of various vegetation types taking place in Bahrain. To achieve this end, remote sensing techniques and processes have been employed on high resolution satellite data to classify different types of vegetation.

The “Vegetation Survey by Satellite Remote Sensing Techniques” is a venture of the GIS Directorate to facilitate concerning ministries and government bodies with detailed information of vegetation in Bahrain as gleaned from remote sensing satellite data, to aid them in the decision-making process. The information provided by the vegetation project is presented in a manner that is useful for both government ministries and general public. The satellite data is generated, published and kept up to date with the latest acquisition of satellite images by the GIS directorate, thus enabling the cost and time effective distribution of the remotely sensed satellite data to the users in the public and private sectors as well as the general public.

One can explore the various locations in the Kingdom of Bahrain in terms of vegetation type and the extent of its coverage in the various Governorates. This wealth of information is provided in the form of maps exhibiting various forms of geospatial data ranging from high resolution multispectral satellite imageries to polygons of vegetation classification. This project by the organisation pursues the aim of providing the best services and outputs to the general public, as outlined by the government strategic vision. The project will be a valuable asset and lively addition to the services provided to the government as well as citizens which will have positive reflections in the progress of the Kingdom of Bahrain.

Project summary
Bahrain has endeavoured to reach a milestone in transitioning from conventional methods to satellite remote sensing, primarily within the Government Sector for utilization of diverse remote sensing products like deployment of satellite images and modern technology of Remote Sensing in the planning and implementation of multi-sector applications in the Kingdom. In full awareness of the fundamental sense that remote sensing has the potential of emerging as an equal opportunity technology and best practices cited for selected applications in an array of sectors e.g. public health, agriculture & urban planning and also in that it provides a plethora of quality spatial data and spectral resolution that can be a powerful tool in the struggle for national sustainable development, a multi-pronged methodology was generated for utilizing digitally enhanced High Resolution (50 cm) Geo Eye Satellite data to expose vegetation characteristics and digital image classification techniques were used to segregate clusters of similar geospatial features like vegetation, cropped fields, planted and wild vegetation in the country. This process has led to obtaining estimates for measuring the extent of Biomass cover and study the relationship between population and biomass cover nexus in the Kingdom. This methodology has quite understandably aided in reduction of substantial costs and time, traditionally associated conventional methods of survey.

GIS Directorate (CIO) has deployed state of art technology of the current technical era, Remote Sensing of satellite data (High resolution GeoEye Satellite Image having a resolution of 50 cm) to aid the functions of stake holders in Government Organizations, Ministries, Private and Public sectors, as a venture towards economizing cost, time and effort and facilitating the decision making process. The aim of this vegetation project using remote sensing of satellite data is to collect and publish data on vegetation (Agricultural and wild) and provide pertinent information on socioeconomic aspects and land-use and vegetation cover nexus in Bahrain.

Bahrain Vegetation Identification and Classification Project has been conducted using Remote Sensing Techniques and Geo Eye Satellite Data, wherein digitally enhanced high resolution Geo Eye Satellite data has been used to expose vegetation characteristics. Satellite image classification techniques have been used to segregate clusters of similar geospatial features like general vegetation-cropped fields, planted and wild vegetation. Final deliverables of the project are maps representing Vegetation delineation in Infra-Red Band, Vegetation Classification, Vegetation Classification represented by Polygons, Governorate wise Distribution of Vegetation and Vegetation Health that has been represented by a classified layer showing unhealthy vegetation.

Conventional mapping and the need for change
With conventional mapping being the status quo in Bahraini agencies, the mapping solutions in use tend to focus on arriving at solutions within the existing framework rather than transforming the existing framework as part of the solution. This approach implies that huge numbers of people (often referred to as field mappers) are deployed in the field to sketch enumeration area maps whilst sweeping the larger administrative area. It can perhaps be argued that it is not necessary to revisit the conventional methods since it provided workable solutions in the past. There are however many reasons why there is a need for change. Bahrain being at par with international trends of promoting the use of Satellite Imagery and applied usage of Advanced State of Art technology-Remote Sensing, towards geospatial applications for vegetation identification and classification and thereby relating it to estimations for Population Census, has successfully obtained positive results that have tackled the issue of quality and confirmed that digital census mapping if applied correctly and optimally it is guaranteed to provide better quality results when compared to conventional mapping.

GeoEye satellite data and state of art technology used
State of Art Technology – Remote Sensing of satellite data has been used, mainly for high resolution (50 cm) GeoEye satellite images. GeoEye Satellite is equipped with the most advanced technology used in remote sensing systems. The satellite collects images in multispectral range and also in black & white over a vast area of thousands of square kilometres thus helping in large scale mapping projects. GeoEye satellite has a visit frequency on any point on Earth once every three days or sooner.

GeoEye Satellite Imagery with a high resolution and wide spectral range is map-oriented satellite imagery and Images can be applied for various thematic uses after being processed by digital image processing technique. Remote Sensing-GIS techniques and agricultural survey data have been integrated in studying the land-use and land cover nexus in Bahrain.

Mapping human dimensions of Bahrain by the biomass cover project
These Remote Sensing procedures have focused largely on indirect linkages between information embedded within spatial imagery and the core themes of the social sciences. Procedures employed were assessments by remote sensing techniques of digital image processing of satellite data for the proximate occurrences of Biomass cover in Bahrain towards agricultural applications by delineation of planted fields, type of crops in the fields, health of crops, area of cropped field, location of cultivated and patches of wild vegetation. Major challenges were counteracted by linking people to pixels of digital satellite data. As a solution, Biomass cover trends were assessed and linked to population data by using the unit of analysis at National, i.e. Governorate and Area level by methodological integration of remote sensing, census and survey data to study the relationship between population and biomass cover nexus in the Kingdom.

Coverage area
Remote Sensing of satellite data has been used, mainly for high resolution (50 cm) satellite images. Remote Sensing techniques and agricultural survey data have been integrated in studying the biomass cover nexus in Bahrain. Vegetation identification and classification was accomplished using Satellite Data and Remote Sensing Techniques for entire Area for Bahrain of about 759 Square Kilometers, inclusive of 5 Governorates-Capital, Central, Muharraq, Northern and Southern.

Main project deliverables of vegetation survey by Satellite Remote Sensing techniques have been provided as thematic maps showing Vegetation Classification, Governorate wise Distribution of Vegetation and Vegetation Health, that has been represented by a classified layer showing unhealthy vegetation. These deliverables have been utilized as tools for estimations in the population census of Bahrain, by identifying areas of cultivated vegetation patches at the land unit levels of Governorates and Areas. Maps generated are Vegetation delineation in Infra-Red Band, Vegetation Classification, Vegetation Classification represented by Polygons, Governorate wise Distribution of Vegetation and Vegetation Health has been represented by a map with the classified layer showing unhealthy vegetation. Area calculations were done for Area of Vegetation Coverage- Bahrain, Area of Vegetation Coverage per Governorate, Total Area of Vegetables and Area of Healthy and Unhealthy Vegetation.

Vegetation types
Identification of 75 different types of vegetation in Bahrain (Cultivated and Wild) and also location of fallow land with scant vegetation has been done using Remote Sensing techniques on satellite data.

Quality assurance and quality control
QA/QC: Spot Checking in field has been done to validate the results obtained. The issue of quality in Digital mapping was applied correctly and optimally and has provided guaranteed better quality results when compared to conventional mapping.

Table No. 1
Area calculations
Have been done for i) Vegetation Coverage- Bahrain; ii) Total Area of Vegetables, iii) Vegetation Coverage per Governorate and iv) Healthy and Unhealthy Vegetation.

Table No. 2
*1 Cultivated vegetation and wild growing vegetation
*2 Vegetables cultivated in agricultural fields

Benefits of using remote sensing for biomass cover
Cost effective: Remote Sensing of satellite data (High resolution GeoEye Satellite Image) facilitated gleaning information over vast areas proved advantageous edge in terms if economizing on cost, time and effort as compared to conventional survey methods which are cost and time consuming.

Vast area coverage: Satellite images present a Birds Eye panoramic view of the entire terrain of Bahrain with vast aerial coverage along with plethora of thematic information that could be easily be extracted using remote sensing techniques.

Time saving: Remote Sensing techniques proved time effective owing to using computer aided methodology to extract relevant terrain information of Biomass cover, which was an advantage over manual methods.

Accessibility to remote terrain: Satellite images provided terrain details of inaccessible areas that could be processed using Remote Sensing techniques to extract thematic information.

Detailed information: Vegetation interpretation using remote sensing techniques yielded detailed information on type of vegetation, biomass coverage, health of vegetation and area of vegetation coverage, without extensive field work.

Tangible benefits: Were reaped out of Remote Sensing techniques in terms of terrain feature identifications and representation as geo-intelligent maps, 3 D Models and graphical display of statistical analysis of thematic studies.

With the introduction of modern methods of using remote sensing techniques to delineate vegetation patches and linking them to population density, it is anticipated that the 2010 round of censuses will be the round where the revolution in census mapping will gain real momentum enabling Bahraini Statistical agencies to become part of the international trend.