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Philippines growth creating opportunities for GIS

The Philippines is comprised of 7,100 tropical islands approximately 450 miles off the coast of mainland China. Last week, the country announced its economy grew 4.5% during 2002’s second quarter, its fastest pace in five years. Over the past year, the country has sustained robust growth, despite a stalled economy in the United States, its largest trading partner. The economic growth has accompanied a rapid population increase, particularly around its capital city, Manila. Philippines’ growth is creating a bigger need, and opportunity, for GIS technologies to make a difference in Asia.

The Philippines landscape includes lush rain forests, scenic wetland valleys, and several active volcanoes. The country’s population regularly faces threats of devastating natural disasters such as volcanoes, tidal waves, flash floods, and earthquakes. The effects of these disasters have been multiplied by the lack of concentrated management of land. Following a series of revealing land use and land cover studies, the country is taking steps to better manage agricultural and residential development. A primary focus is on managing watershed areas and deforestation activities.

A key proponent of the country’s evolving use of GIS is the National Mapping & Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA). The governmental agency is attached to country’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources. NAMRIA recently began an initiative to establish a basic framework for coordinated management of geographic information by the many governmental agencies.