India: The state forest department of Maharashtra has announced that activities like forest fires, felling of trees, illegal wildlife trade and poaching will be tracked in real-time using satellite images of all forested areas in and around the state.
It said that all activities near forest will be monitored through a command centre at Van Bhavan in Nagpur. The centre has a video wall consisting of nine LED monitors, relaying images and information to top forest officials. It would use video-conferencing technology to take decisions.
“The idea is to reduce the time-lag in communication during emergencies such as forest fires and poaching,” said the state forest minister, Sudhir Mungantiwar.
In February 2016, the forest department signed a memorandum of understanding with the National Remote Sensing Centre in Hyderabad, which uploaded maps of all forest areas, wildlife sanctuaries and national parks in the state and surrounding states on their portal using geographical information system (GIS) technology.
“From 2017 onwards, we will get information on major forest problems plotted on a map on real-time basis,” said Mungantiwar. “The process will be much faster through standard operating procedures for each issue and immediate instructions will ensure better management, which otherwise would not have been possible without technology.”
During an emergency, the forest department will consult premier institutes of India such as – Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, Institute of Wood Science and Technology, Bangalore, Indian Plywood Research Training Institute, Bangalore, National Tiger Conservation Authority in Delhi and Indian Council of Forestry Research and Training, Dehradun – to resolve crisis situations.