Role of geospatial technologies in managing natural resources

Role of geospatial technologies in managing natural resources

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India, March 24, 2015: After a series of engaging lectures, engrossing discussions and presentations, the two-day long regional seminar on geospatial technology in natural resource management concluded on March 18. The seminar was organised by Indian Society of Remote Sensing, Ludhiana Chapter and Punjab Remote Sensing Centre at PRSC, Ludhiana (Punjab). It witnessed an overwhelming response of over 200 people including scientists, professionals, students and geospatial industry representatives.

The deliberative exercise was geared to promote the use of geospatial technologies for managing natural resources – soil, water and environment – all over the country. The seminar-cum-workshop witnessed interactions amongst various stakeholders of the natural resources sector as well as the geospatial community. Stalwarts from the industry shared their research and deliberated on framing strategies for managing natural resources.

Dr Brijendra Pateriya, Director, Punjab Remote Sensing Centre, in his opening remarks mentioned that in this age of social media, world has become a global village. He said that geospatial technology provides effective decision making tools for modelling and policy framework, both in scientific research and day-to-day planning. He also emphasised the agricultural issues of depleting ground water, land degradation, climate change and other similar problems could be solved through remote sensing and other geospatial techniques. According to him, geospatial technologies offer greater impetus to understand the matrix of natural, social, cultural variations and prepare a roadmap for future challenges. He noted that since India is an agrarian region, it is very important to realise that geospatial technology can definitely play a vital role in effective management of the natural resources.

Addressing the gathering about the activities conducted by the chapter, Dr S S Kukal, President, ISRS-Ludhiana Chapter mentioned that they are working to create a common platform for agricultural scientists, environmentalists, meteorologists and remote sensing experts to use latest geospatial technologies for sustainable use of natural resources for agricultural production.

In his inaugural address, the chief guest Dr B S Dhillon, Vice Chancellor, Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana congratulated Ludhiana Chapter of ISRS and PRSC, mentioned that though India has seen remarkable agricultural production during the last few decades, this has also resulted in depletion of natural resources. And application of Geospatial technology is the key to overcome the two-fold challenge of ensuring sustained and increased agricultural production as well as to mitigate the environmental degradation.

Later, delivering his address, Dr Shibendu S Ray, Director, Mahalanobis National Crop Forecast Centre (MNCFC) and National Vice President, ISRS, spoke about the potential of remote sensing and GIS in agricultural applications in India. He mentioned about the proven applications of GIS and remote sensing that are used in agriculture sector for crop forecasting, drought assessment, cropping system analysis, site-suitability, irrigation management, precision farming, horticultural development, environmental assessment soil resource mapping, climate change studies, etc. He also talked about the pilot studies to show the utility of GIS based mapping for precision farming.

Followed by a vote of thanks by Dr P K Kingra, Member, IRSC-Ludhiana Chapter, the chief guest inaugurated the exhibition, which displayed a wide range of posters showcasing the use of Geospatial Technologies in various aspects of Natural Resources Management. The seminar also witnessed a good participation from the technology providers in the field of Geospatial Industry.

Sessions after session, discussions kept on going on various topics related to the use of geospatial technology and its effective application in the agriculture sector. In session, “Space Technology for agriculture”, Dr Shibendu S Ray talked about how agriculture in India is strongly affected by two major hydro-meteorological disasters – drought and flood. Since both these disasters impact large area, satellite based monitoring is extremely useful. In India, operational drought assessment using remote sensing is carried under a major programme called National Agricultural Drought Assessment & Monitoring System (NADAMS). The programme, developed by National Remote Sensing Centre (ISRO), is being operationalised by MNCFC. Multiple satellite data (NOAA AVHRR, Terra MODIS, Resourcesat 2 AWiFS) is integrated with meteorological and ground information through a logical modelling approach to assess the agricultural drought condition of different districts/sub districts of 13 states of India.

Ray also updated the audience about some of the new initiatives taken by MNCFC such as operationalisation of indigenous software for crop forecasting (FASALSoft, developed by Space Applications Centre) and drought assessment (NAS, developed by National Remote Sensing Centre); first time operational use of Indian SAR satellite (RISAT-1) data; involving 16 State Agriculture Departments in the crop forecasting process; and use of Smartphone for ground truth collection.

This was followed by a key note lecture on “Space Based Observation for Geological Hazards modeling and analysis by Dr P K Champati Ray, Scientist and Head Geosciences & Geohazards department, IIRS, Dehradun. He spoke about how remotely sensed data plays an integral role in reconstructing the recent history of the land surface and in predicting hazards due to flood and landslide events. Satellite data are addressing diverse observational requirements that are imposed by the need for surface, subsurface and hydrologic characterisation, including the delineation of flood and landslide zones for risk assessments. Short- and long-term change and the impact of atmosphere processes on the environment, through flooding, erosion and storm surge for example, define further requirements for hazard monitoring and mitigation planning.

Parallel sessions on the themes such as geospatial planning and management, geosciences, natural disaster and hazard, and agriculture, soil and water resources were conducted. Researchers and students presented their papers and posters on diverse applications in these fields.

These were followed by a plenary session in which Dr I C Das, NRSC, Hyderabad, provided an overview on “The use of remote sensing and GIS in hydrological mapping and water resources studies. The first day of the seminar concluded on a refreshing note with a beautifully put together cultural evening which highlighted the colours of much spirited northern India specially Punjab.

The second day of the Regional Seminar started off with a popular lecture on “False Topographic Perception Phenomena and its correction by Dr A K Saraf, Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee. Dr Saraf delivered a very engaging lecture on how the remote sensing data of a rugged terrain always suffers from topographic effects and in such cases people frequently perceive valleys as ridges and vice-versa in optical imagery of Sun-Synchronous satellite. Plenary sessions were also conducted where Dr C M Bhatt, NRSC, Hyderabad spoke on space enabled geo-information for flood disaster management, and Dr A K Saraf delivered a talk on remote sensing and GIS application in earthquake studies.

An industry session was conducted after this, where representatives from ESRI India and Geospatial Media & Communications apprised the delegates and participants about their respective solutions and products which could definitely assist the stakeholders in implementing geospatial technologies in their respective sectors. Poster sessions on geospatial planning and management and land use, ecosystem and forestry were conducted concurrently with sessions on agriculture. The deliberations and discussions through the two days of the seminar resulted in useful recommendations to be made to the policy and decision makers, in order to make geospatial technology an integral part of government departments dealing with the management of natural resources.

Source: Our correspondent