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Japan: G-tech to the rescue

Two instances highlight the use of geospatial technology in biodiversity assessment and conservation

Biodiversity conservation is one of the pressing concerns for environment. Biodiversity has been lost mainly because of habitat loss and fragmentation, over harvesting, introduced species, chemical pollution, global climatic changes and agricultural and forest industries. Geospatial technology, such as GIS, remote sensing, and GPS, is expected to contribute to the field of biodiversity conservation.

Figure 1: Conceptual diagram of a case study of Asiatic black bear”s distributional prediction by MaxEnt

The first case study identifies priority habitat areas of the Asiatic black bears in Japan by applying the species” distribution model or the process of using computer algorithms to generate predictive maps of species distributions”. Figure 1 shows a conceptual diagram on species distribution model. A raster dataset regarding environment, which has potential influence to target species, was prepared by mobilising geospatial technology. A predictive distributional map was produced using information on species such as presence data or absence data. In this case study, after applying MaxEnt model, which was one of the species” distribution models, it was concluded that the total black bear population of the Fuji-Tanzawa region was “endangered.”

Figure 2: Conceptual diagram of the ARGOS satellite tracking system of Oriental Honey Buzzard and HACHIKUMA Project

The second case study is real-time monitoring of Oriental Honey Buzzard, which is a species of hawks. The Hachikuma Project, an open-to-the-public project of bird migration, is currently under operation . keio.ac.jp/). Bird migration attracts great interest of many people in Japan and other parts of the world. While it was difficult to track the migration of birds in the past, satellite tracking has been recently established and tracking the migration of large-size and medium-size birds has become possible for an almost real time use. Satellite tracking is done through the ARGOS system, which enables collecting tracking data remotely by utilising the satellites of the NOAA and the METOP-A. Figure 2 illustrates the conceptual diagram of a mechanism of ARGOS system and this project.