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Remote Sensing and GIS applications in hunger free area programme and coastal wetlands studies

L. Gnanapazham, R. Krishnamoorthy, S.Rajagopal, & L.R.A.Narayan
M.S. Swaminaathan Research Foundation
3rd Cross Road, Taramani Institutional Area
Madras 600113, India

The application of GIS for socio-economic studies and coastal wetlands management has been explained here. A detailed note on t introduction to GIS and its application examples are given and this paper has been prepared based on various ongoing examples are given and this projects at the M.S.Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF)

1.0 Introduction
During the past two and half a decade we could have access to technology which gives information on our earth’s surface on a near-real time form satellite altitudes by earth orbiting satellites. the area in each scene covered about 30000 sq.km. although the spatial resolution was only about 80m. on the ground. since the data came to us in the form of digital information,we could process it by computer or convert in to a picture and visually study. This a larger area could be viewed in one picture, thus giving us about 5m./ ground resolution as today and with the possibility of reaching even one meter resolution before the turn of the center, the sophisticated used of computers grow very fast and has become ian every persons use a available at affordable process., or at low enough process. along with it grow the information technology also, and now we have reached a stage of what they call as information explosion.

While these possibility grow, one important technology become highly versatile providing us with a verity of environmental solutions or stay aid in finding useful solutions. While scientists world over are now aware of a variety of environmental degradation that are taking place, it is now becoming possible to map, manage and monitor changes that are taking place ort our environment. besides this we are now able to locate precisely where we stands, using what is known as Global Positioning System. of late the trend is to use GPS to support a GIS for a variety of uses and world over new innovations are taking pole to expose damages being caused to our environment, say land, water or air. to understand a variety of consequential processes that are taking place, leading to general deterioration due to certain actions over a period of time,c an be monitored and corrective measured taken only when the information’s near real time and that a large area can be looked at one time. Take for instance, land use changes that are taking place in the changing landscape of the worked. this being highly dynamic, only information obtainable with remote sensing fgaorm satellite altitude and map them on a continues basis, we may reach a stage. Where corrective measures may become difficult. so also formation of wastelands in our country. Wastelands covering more than 50% of India has been mapped ot correctly locate location of such wastelands, so that we could try ot restore them with great benefit. In turn some parts of wasteland, could also be turned into forest,as our forest cover in India is only less than 20% of the total geographical are. hence, we have to look at use of GIS from several point of view, and which environmental issues ore most important.

India has a long coastline of nearly 7500 km including its Island territories. it has a variety of habitats such s vast stretches of backwaters, estuaries, lagoons, bays, mangroves, coral reefs and sea grass beds, etc. among these coastal habitats, mangroves, coral reefs and sea grass beds are considered crititcal habitats due to their importance in maintaining the productivity and biological diversity of the coastal water. apart from this, the subsistence living of he coastal population greatly depend upon the coastal zone. There is an increasing pressure to utilize the coastal zone and their habitats like fish, shellfish, sea grass and coral for various purpose as well as for the development of harbor, urban sites, both biological diversity and biomass of the coastal system are undergoing rapid decline and charges. Thus, there is a need to protect the coastal environment while ensuring continuing production and development.

The MSSRF dealing with coastal systems research, a national programme on Coastal Wetlands: Mangrove Conservation and Management sponsored by the India-Canada Environment Facility, a co-ordinated programme for the conservation and sustainable management of mangrove forests along East Cost of India. the programme aims of understand the precise causes for the degradation of mangrove wetlands, identify and test suitable remedies for the identified maladies and develop a system of Joint Mangrove forest Management involving the coming together fo the Forest Departments and the mangrove forest dependent communities into symbiotic partnership. The Foundation had been chosen for the 1996 Blue Planet Prize. This prize was instituted by the Asahi Glass Foundation of Japan in 1992. MSSRF is the first Blue Planet Prize winner from Asia for its achievements contributed to the resolution of global environmental problems. 2.0 GIS Projects at M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation

2.1 Socio-Economics Studies
initially, the GIS has been used for analyzing to socio-economic properties like population, literacy, female literacy, sex ration, employment, poor populatin mortality index etc. under the Hunger Free Areaa Programme. GIS analysis was carried out for one Panchayat Union Block ( Pennagaram block ) of Dharmpuri district in Tamil Nadu. The Pennagaram block with village boundaries was digitized using Arc info GIS and the above parameters has been put in ot the corresponding dat base which is attached with village map. them maps were prepared for individual factors with levels a per the specification. all the maps were overlaid to find out the condition of each village with respect to the parameters taken for the analysis( figure 1).

Fig 1. Pennagaram Blick -Dharmapuri Dt.

2.2 Coastal Wetlands Management
In India, there is a severe pressure for the co9nversion of mangroves to agriculture, industries, aquaculture and upstream river water diversion for irrigation or other purpose. ministry of Environment and forest (MoEF, 1987) has given the area of mangroves in India s 6740 sq, km and updated the ara of mangroves as 4,256 in 1994 ( MoEF, 1994) and the recent estimate by Space Applications Center ( based on remoter sensing mapping ) the area of mangroves as 3960 sq.km Remote Sensing of change -detection is a process of determining and evaluating differences in a variety of surface phenomenon over time. for detection of land cover change, multitemporal satellite data found to be more suitable ( Krishnamoorthy, 1997). Presently the MSSRF implementing a project on Coastal Wetlands ; Mangrove Conservation and management funded by the India-Canada Environment Facility. The prime objective of this project is to enhance the national capacity of coastal communities, village institutions to restore, conserve and sustainable mange the mangrove wetlands and the preparation of wetland database. the expected outcome of this national programme is the joint mangrove management plan for all the major mangrove sites along east coast containing tested approaches along with mangrove atlas containing all the relevant thematic maps, suitable sites for conservation and restoration. also the capacity built in local self government especially Forest Department to use the mangrove atlas and GIS tool for decision making purposes. various thematic maps have been prepared from IRS LISS-III sensor data. the validated maps and Survey of India (SOI) base maps are being digitized and entered in GIS for adding other spatial data like drainage, watershed, etc. along with no-spatial socio-economic data. To understand the shoreline changes and the specific impact on the mangrove wetlands, 1970-SOI topomaps and recent IRS data are being analysed using GIS. One of our initial output form PC Arc/Info GIS of Godavari mangrove area is shown in Figure 2. the above map has been prepared using IRS LISS-III imagery and the details on Reserve Forest boundary, village locations, etc. were overlaid. Other thematic maps like shoreline change, geomorphology, vegetation change map based on multidate satellite data, etc. being entered in the GIS for the creation of wetland database. In addition we are collecting and generating relevant field data like soil quality, watershed details, vegetation details, etc. from our field centers and also form various departments and all those details will be attached to relevant thematic maps for analysis. This major programme is expected to be completed after two to three years and in between we are planning to conduct suitable workshop com seminar based on the results/output derived form this project.

The authors are grateful to the India-Canada Environment Facility, New Delhi for their financial support and guidance. We are highly thankful to Prof. M.S.Swaminathan for his constant encouragement and guidance to publish our work. We are thankful to Mr. S.Sankaramuthy and Dr. V.Selvam for their help and support.


  • Krishnamoorhty, R. 1997. ” Managing mangroves in India”. GIS Asia Pacific June/July Issue.pp.26-29.
  • MoEF. 1987. ” Wetlands of India -a status report”. Ministry of Environment & Forests, Govt. of India, New Delhi, 150 pp.
  • MoEF. 1994.” Wetland s of India -a directory “. Ministry of Environment & Forest, Govt. of India, New Delhi, 150 pp.
  • PAMAP Technologies Corporation User Manual,3rd Revised Edition ( November 1990).