Land Resources Planning

The agriculturist, forester and rangeland manager all strive for the efficient and sustainable planning and management of renewable resources: agricultural crops, timber and forage, conservation and protection. When adequate information is available or can be collected, improved management programmes can often be implemented to ensure the sustainable utilisation of the available resources for food, fibre, fuel and so on.

The complexity and number of problems that confront both the consultants and the indigenous planners and managers in the field are enormous; they often involve the need for information within known spatial and temporal constraints and the ability to then apply that information for problem resolution. The use of remote sensing for data gathering, allied to the introduction of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) as a powerful tool to process that data in conjunction with information collected using traditional field techniques enable the resource manager to be more effective.

GISL Limited's experience in rural development and land resources planning projects includes the design and implementation of socially acceptable, technically feasible, cost-effective and sustainable methods and techniques for the resolution of land and water resources difficulties. Satellite imagery has frequently been used as a primary data source in developing countries where the partial or complete absence or availability of topographic and thematic maps are prohibitive to the development process.

Projects in Ethiopia, Namibia, Ghana, Belize, Somalia and Sudan illustrate the worth of this approach. Remote, poorly mapped areas where agricultural development is the key to equitable and sustainable livelihoods require regional development strategies that include development of coherent policy options, identification of specific programmes and projects and medium to long-term monitoring and evaluation.

Satellite image interpretation permits the preparation of base maps, terrain evaluation, land use classification and land degradation. Coupled to intensive practical training in image interpretation, field verification and survey methods, the capabilities of regional authorities have been expanded in response to local needs.

Agriculture and associated vegetative phenomena are dynamic; the correct appraisal of conditions at any time is essential for forecasting trends and patterns in land cover, processes and yield/biomass. The synoptic view and the repetitive cover afforded by satellite data allows multi-temporal observation of seasonal changes. To make best use of such information it is necessary to combine it with other data. Traditional cartographic techniques are cumbersome and error prone; the need for a marriage between remote sensing, earthbound survey, cartography and spatial and statistical analysis techniques is readily apparent.

Geographic Information Systems have been adopted as part of an innovative but cost-effective and sustainable approach to the multifarious problems facing the resource planner. The range and volume of data gathered in the course of project identification, feasibility studies, design, impact assessment, implementation, monitoring and evaluation has often been a hindrance to the formulation of coherent management strategies. With a GIS the planner and manager has the facility to actually exploit the data to help achieve given objectives. These systems and methodologies represent an essential tool for the enhancement of traditional management techniques and structures and embody the professional, innovative and sustainable ethic essential for effective development.

GISL Limited work with the client to ensure that GIS solutions are adopted at the earliest possible stage where relevant and that the necessary steps are taken to ensure that the adoption of such an approach is effective and efficient - awareness seminars, cost-benefit analysis, management issues etc. This avoids unnecessary effort and facilitates both the design and the project management process. A full needs assessment can be used to promote the correct database design, identification of data handling requirements, recognition of the diverse data sources embraced and the training or familiarisation required for all participants.

GISL Limited can also provide the one-stop solution for specification, procurement, design and installation of solution oriented systems. Other aspects that need to be addressed include identification of alternative data gathering options including airborne videography, satellite imagery and design of field data collection surveys.