GIS Oriented Thematic Portals – A Means for Partnership in Sustainable Development...

GIS Oriented Thematic Portals – A Means for Partnership in Sustainable Development in the Hindu Kush-Himalayas

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Birendra Bajracharya
International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development
Email: [email protected]

Sushil Pandey

Abstract
Geo-Information Systems have emerged as indispensable tools for dealing with issues on natural resources and environmental management which provide powerful tools for integrating and analyzing complex sets spatial information. The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development ICIMOD, through its Mountain Environment and Natural Resources Information Systems (MENRIS), has been working for the dissemination and application of GI technology in the Hindu Kush – Himalaya (HKH) region. MENRIS was established in 1990 with the basic concept of making a regional and coordinated effort to take advantage from the potentials of GI technology with the main objectives to build capacities of national institutions, to assist in development and sharing of geographic information, and to act as a clearinghouse for the existing knowledge in mountain resources’ management. The developments in GI systems and Internet technology have provided new opportunities in publishing, sharing and discovering geographic information and greatly facilitated the clearinghouse functions. As a result, MENRIS initiated the development of a Mountain GIS Portal focusing on the needs of the region. The portal provides a common platform for users and providers to share maps, metadata, data and applications through the Internet Mapping tools on all themes thus providing a horizontal integration.

During the same time, ICIMOD also saw the development of a number of web sites addressing different issues of mountain development and dealing with geographic information in some way, for example, bio-diversity management, water resources management and climate change. Initiatives are now undergoing to develop thematic portals dealing in depth with these specific issues and integrate them vertically under a common framework. These thematic portals will serve as knowledge centres or information infrastructures on the specific themes, as well as a forum to build partnerships and on-line communities among different institutions in the region. The framework will continue with the data centric approach to share, publish and discovery approach taken by the mountain GIS portal, but will additionally incorporate specific tools like modelling tools, spatial decision support applications, dynamic GIS capabilities, as well as documentation of best practices and applied case studies on the particular themes. Such a platform will help to develop networks and partnerships among stakeholders and promote regional cooperation in dealing with many issues which are transboundary in nature.