James Cutler - International GIS and Remote Sensing Applications Consultant

James Cutler


Personal Data: Nationality British Date of Birth 1963 Status: Married; two children
Languages: English: mother tongue Spanish: conversational French: fair


1985 BSc (Hons) Geography (London); 2i

1987 MSc Land and Water Management - Applied Remote Sensing Option (Silsoe College, Cranfield Institute of Technology), 1987

Professional Qualifications

Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society

Member of Association of Geographic Information


Co-founder of GISL and Geographic Information Services Limited, an UK and Africa based GIS/remote sensing and information services company. The Firm retains a core of partners with specialist GIS, remote sensing and information technology skills and the expertise in applying these skills for improved management and decision making. Areas of expertise include urban and rural planning, environmental database management, land use planning, water resource survey, agricultural inventory and crop area mapping, environmental and natural resource assessment, GPS survey and training. This has been gained in a number of progressively responsible technical and managerial positions in the UK and in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Mr Cutler has been involved in the field of remote sensing and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for the past 12 years. He has experience of ERMapper, MapInfo, ArcView 3.0a/Avenue, ILWIS, SPANS/SPANSMAP, pcArcINFO and AutoCAD. He also has experience of data capture techniques including airborne videography, GPS and conventional surveying and database management for urban, agricultural, environmental and natural resource projects. As well as leading a multi-disciplinary team in Ghana, Mr Cutler has also gained experience in such fields as land use planning, soil conservation, irrigation, water supplies and integrated rural development.

The wide range of activities in which Mr Cutler has been actively involved include: team/leader/project management of greenbelt project in Ghana; land registration in Mongolia; an airborne survey for land enclosure in Namibia; a river basin development Master Plan in Ethiopia; a land use survey and plan in the Sudan; early warning systems development in Sudan; rangeland mapping in Ethiopia; establishment of water distribution management system for major utility in Nigeria; installation and training of GIS/remote sensing facilities in Ghana, India, Nepal, Ethiopia; satellite image map production for forestry mapping in Ghana; environmental impact assessment in Nepal; watershed management in Somalia, Nepal and Bolivia and needs assessments, feasibility studies and implementation of appropriate PC based image processing and GIS in numerous countries world-wide. In addition James is responsible for strategic planning and marketing for business development as well as the design and implementation of a range of projects requiring needs assessment, systems analysis, MIS, applications development and training.


1993- Geographic Information Services Limited in Ghana/Namibia and GISL Limited in the UK

Company Co-founder and Director

GISL is a UK and Africa-based GIS/remote sensing and information services company with the specialist skills and expertise required to bring new methods and tools to decision makers for improved management and decision making in the environmental and natural resources fields. In providing a complete information systems service with a range of hardware, software, training courses and bureau capability for project implementation as well as the full consultancy capability for these applications, GISL accesses first-hand the growing information systems marketplace world-wide. James’ role is to coordinate business development effort, to carry out technical consultancy in GIS, remote sensing and informatics and to supervise other consulting contracts.

Director, GISL (Ghana), 1997- present

GISL established a full technical capability in Accra in early 1997; Mr Cutler has full responsibility for all administrative, technical, marketing and logistical activities in region which to date has seen projects in both government and commercial sectors including greenbelt planning, urban planning, forestry, mineral exploration, airborne videography and environmental GIS. The services have included provision of a multi-disciplinary team for feasibility study, image acquisition and processing, image-map production, training in GIS and remote sensing, large scale mapping and needs assessment.

1999 Drakensberg Maloti Mountains Conservation Programme, Lesotho; EC

Needs assessment study followed by output preparation for the Final Report of this study, seen as the precursor to a more substantial implementation programme for conservation and development of the afro-alpine zone in eastern Lesotho. Included assessment of data availability in Lesotho and South Africa, technical competence and identification of a range of options at project, programme and institutional levels. A range of data was acquired for analysis and map production using ArcView.

1998 Forest Sector Development Programme – Ghana - DFID

Design and implementation of programme component to update forest reserve maps Acquisition of SPOT XS imagery, geometric correction, image map production and training.

1998 Accra Sustainable Programme - Ghana - UNCHS/UNDP

Appointed to provide hardware, software, peripherals and consumables and training in ArcView to ASP as part of the upgrading of their original installation (1992). The system is to play a central part in the implementation of the planning system for Accra Metropolitan Area.

1998 South East Greenbelt Project - Ghana - Town and Country Planning Department, MEST

Team Leader/GIS expert

GISL have been appointed to prepare guidelines for the implementation of greenbelt for the Accra-Tema conurbation. The project aims to promote the development of a greenbelt system by preparing policies, strategies and guidelines for planning authorities and developers on the use and development of land within the greenbelt zone. Activities to enable this include substantial data collation and analysis using GIS for boundary definition, legislative review, land use planning and zoning (using the GIS in conjunction with SPOT satellite data and airborne videography), environmental monitoring and greenbelt evaluation guidelines, institutional appraisal and recommendations for project implementation and management. A collaborative approach in which the stakeholders play a valuable and active part in the planning process underlies this study. The consultancy will prepare, within a 20-year framework, programmes and projects to be implemented over the short, medium and long-term to guide the District Assemblies affected by the greenbelt.

1997-8 Protected Areas Development Programme - Ghana - EC

Production of 1:50000 scale image maps of two protected areas (Bia and Ankasa Forest Reserves) in Western Region of Ghana using Landsat TM and digital topographic data in ERMapper and ArcView; supply of hardware, software, peripherals and consumables and their subsequent installation for the establishment of a GIS for protected areas management; supply of solar equipment to enable distributed centres to operate their project management system.

GIS and Image Processing Training Expert, Ghana, Nigeria

ERMapper, ArcView, ArcINFO and MapInfo training programmes structured according to client need.

1997 Planning Branch, Forestry Department, Kumasi - Ghana - DFID

Provision of training in pcArcINFO, ArcView GIS and ERMapper to the Mapping Unit to enable production of planning and management outputs.

1997 Private Mineral Exploration Companies - Ghana

Advice on utilisation of satellite imagery followed by acquisition and processing of satellite data leading to the production of regional and concession based image maps at 1:100000 scale.

Strengthening Land use Policies, Mongolia

Land Information Systems Expert, ADB, 1996-8

GISL were appointed as lead consultants in this 2 (eventually 3) phase programme to develop expertise within the Ministry of Nature and Environment (MNE) to facilitate the improved management, planning and protection of Mongolia’s fragile physical resource base at a time of rapid socio-economic change. The core objective is to link legislative changes arising out of recent political changes to the capabilities of the fragile resource base of the country through an inter-connected web of regulatory advice derived from the requirements of land tenure changes and concerns about environmental degradation. Land registration, cadastral survey, land use zoning and environmental components ensured an integrated approach that then provided the basis preparation of a Feasibility Study (phase 3) for subsequent implementation in which LIS is to play a central role and which in conjunction with revised legislative, regulatory and advisory strategies will allow for the development of a land market and Mongolia’s physical resources.

PROSCARP, Ministry of Agriculture - Malawi - EDF

GIS Consultant

Preparation of successful proposal for the establishment of a monitoring and evaluation system to the Promotion of Soil Conservation and Rural Production (PROSCARP) project; 1997. Undertaking needs assessment for actual MIS for M&E project in 1999.

Institutional Strengthening of Nepal Electricity Authority Environment Division (NEA-ED), Nepal

Environmental Management Information Systems Advisor, ADB, (1997)

Two man-month input to identify role for environmental management information systems in the environmental activities undertaken by NEA-ED. These include screening, scoping, EIA, mitigation planning and environmental monitoring with the emphasis very much on the latter area in a project context. Institutional issues were identified and documented including training, collaboration and approach and various options were presented for developing an entry level tool for project screening.

1996-7 GIS Implementation for Coastal Zone Habitat Mapping - Yemen - GEF/EU

Project and procurement manager of programme component to acquire and process satellite imagery of the southern coastal zone, create digital database from existing topographic mapping and install ArcINFO-based GIS. Management activities included client liaison, digital image analysis, hardcopy interpretation, preparation of digital map and attribute databases.

IT/GIS Needs Assessment, Kaduna State Water Board (KSWB), Nigeria

GIS/IT Consultant, African Development Bank (1995-6)

The modernisation of this water supply organisation includes an extensive appraisal of data collection, analysis and manipulation requirements in terms of human and technical resources, training and dissemination procedures for improved management, planning and decision making. Report implementation required equipment specification and design, installation and training. A MapInfo based installation was procured and training given in data capture, database design and in the query and reporting functions important to the utility. While the GIS is being used for operational and maintenance aspects, it is to be developed for bulk water resource and environmental planning.

DWA Satellite Image Procurement, Processing and Analysis, Namibia

Remote Sensing Consultant, Govt of Namibia (1995-96; 1996-7)

Procurement and processing of satellite imagery and analysis for Department of Water Affairs (DWA) in the Ministry of Agriculture.

GIS Feasibility Study for Management of 1 million Object Parcel Identification System under the Integrated Administration and Control System (IACS) - UK/Portugal/Italy

GIS Consultant, European Commission (1995-6)

The Company is developing a GIS prototype to conform to existing regulations surrounding the management of agricultural parcel identifiers declared under the Common Agricultural Policy for the justification of area-based subsidies. The programme consists of three phases:

I. the advantages and disadvantages that GIS techniques offer for handling of agricultural parcel identifiers;

II. the availability of GIS software on the market to handle the kind of datasets currently being collected for IACS in EU Member States;

III. the lessons to be learnt from the implementation of a prototype system, based upon already existing digital data in Italy and Portugal.

Preparation Mission for National Forestry Survey, India – European Commission (1995)

The Company developed financing proposals to strengthen the capability of the Forest Survey of India (FSI) in the fields of remote sensing and the customisation and distribution of data to end-users.

Forest Inventory and Management Project (FIMP), Ghana

Image Acquisition, Processing and Image-Map Production, DFID/World Bank (1994-6)

Having advised FIMP informally upon various aspects of their programme, GISL were appointed to carry out image acquisition and processing of Landsat TM for the whole south of Ghana for the Forestry Department using ERMapper. Outputs included a series of image-maps derived from Landsat TM imagery at 1:100,000 scale with the specific aim of providing up-to-date information to FIMP for forestry reserve management. The assignment includes the identification of appropriate band combinations, enhancement, mosaicing (for multi-scene printed map output at 1:500000 scale), geometric and radiometric correction and map production.

South East Rangelands Project (SERP), Ethiopia

GIS and Resource Survey Design Consultancy for UNHCR (1993)

The company was appointed to implement an already acquired GIS in this remote part of Ethiopia as an integral component of the existing programme but also to establish a base from which the impending resource survey could be developed. Installation, problem solving, awareness programmes/seminars and elementary training were provided. At the same time a full scale resource survey design was carried out for the near 300,000 km2 area; with the emphasis placed on strict sampling and implementation methodologies, the design provides an ideal framework for regional land use/resource survey and planning.

Northern Regions Study, Namibia

Information Systems Consultant (1993)

GISL were appointed to provide a full information systems needs assessment for Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Rural Development (MAWRD) with respect to the development of the four former communal land areas. This included discussion with beneficiaries and decision makers across the Northern Regions, the identification of appropriate information handling systems and recommendations for institutional strengthening.

Ethiopian Valley Development Studies Authority (EVDSA), Ethiopia

GIS/Remote Sensing Consultant, Omo-Gibe River Basin Development Master Plan (1993-6)

GISL were appointed to provide all the remote sensing, GIS and cartographic inputs to the programme. This requires a number of inputs spread over the three years of the project, beginning with needs assessment in consultation with the client and with the other consultants and then providing GIS and database design and installation, image acquisition and processing including mosaicing and classification, ground truthing and field verification with GPS and an extensive programme of hand-on training as well as GIS applications development and analysis.

1989-93 Environmental Systems Analyst, Scott Wilson Kirkpatrick & Partners, UK

Responsible for remote sensing/GIS applications in land use planning, environmental monitoring, resource appraisal, regional and rural development planning; for training and consultancy on the application of remote sensing/GIS methods within SWK/MASCOTT; for environmental appraisal of development projects; and for the implementation of remote sensing/GIS methodologies on applications lead projects in the UK and overseas:

Food Security Coordination Unit, MFEP, Khartoum, Sudan (1992/3)

Management Information Systems Consultant

Assessment and appraisal of current data collation, collection and utilisation to develop a food security information system (FSIS) for better management and decision making in a region where land degradation and poor communications make food allocation and distribution a key priority; development of a strategic grain reserve requirements model on Lotus123; development of and training in MIS for unit management;

Accra Planning and Development Programme (APDP), Ghana

GIS/Data Management Training Consultancy for UNCHS (1992)

Establishment of spatial database for multi-agency use in the Ministry of Local Government using 1:50000 mapping, SPOT imagery and aerial photography and incorporating statistical, natural resources, land, infrastructure, social, economic and administrative information. Hardware and software installation of multiple GIS and drafting workstations using ILWIS, GEO/SQL and AutoCAD; theoretical training in GIS supported by on-the-job training and practicals using the GIS facility installed; database design, multi-level training, data collection and analyses together with the preparation of demonstration datasets and a series of trial runs were carried out;

Rail Link Project, UK (1989-90; 1992)

As Environmental Advisor to the Engineering Design Teams of this major infrastructure development project responsible for the collation, assessment and analysis of extensive environmental information. Integration with the engineers ensured development of acceptable and viable route options through careful alignment planning and mitigation prior to the presentation of options to Government in November 1992;

South Kassala Agricultural Project, Sudan (1991)

Physical Planner on Land Use Survey and Land Use Plan project

Responsible for investigation and planning for water resources and water supply in an important agricultural area. Other subject areas included wastewater and sewage, rural infrastructure including health and education facilities and rural energy. Work included extensive GPS inventory of water supply system, questionnaire, data analysis, map preparation (using ILWIS) and Land Use Survey and Plan reports;

Gujarat Jalseva Training Institute (GJTI), Gujarat, India (1991)

GIS/remote sensing consultant

2 month installation of GIS/remote sensing (SPANS, R-CHIPS and GIST) facility at regional water resources centre with intensive programme of ground and surface water applications related GIS and satellite image interpretation and analysis training;

ICIMOD, Kathmandu, Nepal (1990, 1991)

GIS/remote sensing consultant

Installation of GIS/remote sensing facility (GIST, ITS-30) at International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) with rolling programme of environmental and resource applications lead GIS and remote sensing training for ICIMOD staff;

Arun Access Road, Nepal (1990)

Environmental Analyst

1 month engineering geomorphological and environmental impact study of 22km stretch of new road (Hile to Basantapur) in Eastern Nepal including examination of cut-slope failure;

Environmental Studies Group, UK (1989-90)

Administration, identification of projects, preparation of proposals and supervision of contracts; focusing the use of GIS in Environmental Impact Assessment.

1989 Marketing/Project Manager, Nigel Press Associates, UK

NPA are international consultants in remote sensing with particular emphasis placed on geological, mapping and environmental applications. Involved in all aspects of project identification, design and implementation and in an advisory role to clients around the world.

1988 Land Use Planner, Landell Mills Associates, UK

Land use plan for an Orange Hill citrus estate, St Vincent, West Indies

1988 Watershed Management Advisor, MASCOTT Ltd

North West Region Agricultural Development Project (NWADEP), Somalia

Watershed/soil conservation advisor investigating and implementing non-mechanical soil conservation measures. Vetiver grass, brush and stone barriers, sisal, low earth bunds and afforestation were identified; informal education extension and demonstration projects were begun with Somali villagers to introduce these and other agronomic techniques for sustainable resource development. Civil disturbances lead to a sudden and premature end to NWRDP. Reports include cost benefit analysis and watershed management manual.

1987-8 Team Leader, Student Aid for Agricultural Development (SAFAD) Project with Centro de Estudios Ambientales (CEA), Bolivia

Working with and in the communities on the altiplano as part of a project concerned with the demonstration, education and introduction of technologies appropriate to the hard physical and economic conditions of the region. Focus was on soil erosion and associated nutrient depletion and identifying ways of mitigating these problems; hardy trees were distributed and planting and care procedures demonstrated. Appropriate greenhouses were introduced: constructed against houses they act as a heat sink maintaining temperatures above freezing, allowing vegetables to be grown adding protein and vitamins to the traditional potato diet.

1986-7 MSc Land and Water Management (Applied Remote Sensing Option) Silsoe College, Cranfield Institute of Technology, UK

MSc included courses in soils, resource surveys, agriculture, economics of resource management, air-photo interpretation as well as the principles, techniques and applications of remote sensing. Training included ground survey design, sampling and project implementation techniques. MSc research project entitled "The use of AVHRR-LAC imagery for the estimation of biomass in the Sahelien rangelands".

1985-6 Chief Surveyor, Royal Geographical Society

Oman Wahiba Sands Project, Sultanate of Oman

Responsible for extensive and diverse land survey programme for team of research scientists in the Wahiba Sands. Tasks included measuring sand dune movement, vegetation transects, date palm garden mapping, raised river channel morphology and route mapping and marking using a range of survey methods including GPS and terrestrial stereo-modelling.

1984 Team Leader, Kosi Hills Resource Conservation Project, Nepal

Three month undergraduate research project to Eastern Nepal to carry out small scale study of soil erosion in a small sub-catchment of the Kosi River. The study required an extensive programme of field data collection including land survey, soil pit construction and monitoring, study of cut-slope failure and an assessment of the impact of vegetative cover on soil loss (notably Eupatorium adenophorum).

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