Home Articles Technological Advances using Remote Sensing and GIS in Forestry Sector of India

Technological Advances using Remote Sensing and GIS in Forestry Sector of India

R K Bajpai
Deputy Director
Forest Survey of India,
Email: [email protected]

Saibal Dasgupta
Joint Director
Forest Survey of India
Email: [email protected]

Dr Pandey
Forest Survey of India
Email: [email protected]

In spite of an impressive history of scientific forest management in India, the high forest type diversity and vastness of forest resources have posed challenging gaps in forestry database. However, with the advent of Remote Sensing (RS) and Geographical Information System (GIS) hopes of bridging these gaps has arisen. The paper provides an overview on how enhanced measurement of natural resources, facilitated by RS and GIS, may prove invaluable for forest management, with emphasis on developments made during the last one decade. The paper also highlights the pivotal role of Forest Survey of India (FSI) in this respect. Forest resources database needs to be set, run and updated at both divisional (basic unit of forest administration) and national levels in India. At the divisional level the forest officers are guided by working plan, the document that describes the division’s profile and prescribes action for future two decades. It needs periodic updating with all the relevant information of a division. At the national level an assessment of forest and tree cover is required for ascertaining the ecological, economic and even social value the green cover carries. In 1980s, after National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA) displayed the potential of forest cover mapping and assessment, FSI successfully built capacity for highly accurate RS based forest cover assessment. FSI was subsequently mandated to make biennial forest cover assessment with remote sensing. With improvement in scale of interpretation and resolution of imagery, FSI has made significant progress in forest cover mapping and assessment. In addition to forest cover mapping, remote sensing technology has been extensively used of late to prepare classified Tree Outside Forest (TOF) maps depicting block, linear and scattered patches of trees groups up to 0.1 ha. RS combined with GIS has also been applied in a number of projects, particularly in the preparation of working plans (case study of Mizoram), national forest type mapping, forest fire mapping, etc. Such spatial information generated on maps is of immense value to the planner and policy makers at the district / state and national level.The Global Positioning System (GPS) technology is now being used extensively for field inventory. GPS in conjunction with RS and GIS has been used by FSI for implementation of suitable sampling design to carry out forest inventory in inaccessible areas also.One of the key areas for dissemination of knowledge in the field of RS, GIS and GPS has been training. FSI has been building the capacities of forestry personnel over the year in the field of remote sensing, GIS and GPS applications is forest resource management. FSI also helps SFDs set up GIS cells, which in conjunction with FSI-trained personnel, further facilitate dissemination of these modern technologies in each state.In the final part, the paper seeks to delineate the areas of focus at national and state levels so that duplication of effort and resources is averted. The paper also suggests concrete steps that may be taken for further effective use in forestry of the technological advancements in geoinformatic techniques.