Depiction of ecosystem harbouring around 120,000 known plants and perhaps another 400,000
as yet undescribed species of plants, microbes and animals is possible with the recent
Biodiversity is receiving the attention of various scientists/planners/decision-makers due to its
importance as a natural reservoir with tremendous economic potential. Conservationists have
focussed attention on this fast depleting resource. In-situ conservation using ecosystem approach
is popular which also protects various ecological services offered by forest ecosystem. Examples
of such services are soil and water conservation, pollutant sink, noise reduction, shelter belts,
microclimatic effects etc. Emphasis is on identifying most valuable biodiversity spots that harbour
non-timber forest species such as endangered flora and fauna, medicinal plants and wild relatives
of cultivated crops. While identifying such spots, it is also important to take into account the
landuse and human activities around the forest.
Conservation programmes for the 21stcentury are increasingly focused at the ecosystem level.
IUCN/UNEP/WWF observe that "conserving biological diversity equals conserving ecosystems".
The key question in this case is "Where are such ecosystems and how one is important in
comparison to another?"
Comprehensive, quality information on the distribution, status and utilisation of India\u2019s biodiversity
is the cornerstone for planning its conservation. While a lot of information exists, it is dispersed
widely across the subcontinent among a large number of organisations. Moreover, some of it is
not easily accessible or available in readily usable electronic form. Also, there are significant gaps
in database in many areas.
Hence, assessing biodiversity of megadiversity country like India is enormous task. Depiction of
ecosystem harbouring around 120,000 known plants and perhaps another 400,000 as yet
undescribed species of plants, microbes and animals is possible with the recent technological
advances. Over the years, scientists have tried to find practical and simplified approaches to
identify vegetation unit that represents unique species composition and diversity. Thus, the term
"vegetation type" became popular among ecologists, which can be defined as \u2018the assemblage of
dominant growth forms of plant species sharing common habitat i.e. landform.
In early 90\u2019s, the efforts were focussed on supplementing field-based observations with the
remote sensing based observations. The challenge was to prove that units identified on remote
sensing data represents unique composition. In pioneer studies carried out at Indian Institute of
Remote Sensing, Dehradun, vegetation communities in dry deciduous forests were mapped
using Landsat TM data. Field data collected using stratified random sampling was analysed
statistically to identify communities existing in the forest. The results showed vegetation units
identified on remote sensing image show total agreement with the results of field based
observations (Ravan, Roy and Sharma, 1995). The advantage of remote sensing is that it also
identifies the vegetation /landuse units which may likely to miss during field surveys because of
limitations in sampling techniques.
Recent publications from Centre for Ecological Sciences (Indian Institute of Science) have
verified above concept in Western Ghats forest by classifying ecological entities differentiated in
terms of their composition/configuration to which field investigations of biodiversity can be linked
(Nagendra and Gadgil, 1999). Thus, the efforts have resulted in wide acceptance of remote
sensing technology in various studies such as wildlife ecology, biodiversity assessment, wetland
ecology, biodiversity prioritization, forest and wildlife management etc.
Landscape ecology considers vegetation as a mosaic of patches of vegetation with unique
landform, species composition and disturbance gradient and focuses on parameters such as
patch sizes, patch shapes, patch isolation, interspersion (adjacency of various
landuses/landcover), juxtaposition (relative importance of adjacent patches), fragmentation,
patchiness etc. All these parameters have direct bearing on the status of biodiversity within forest
Spatial analytical capabilities of GIS allow quantifying all above parameters with the remote
sensing based vegetation type map alone. Roy et al, 1996 have used GIS to characterise habitat
of endangered animal, Mountain Goral, using GIS for evaluating principles of landscape ecology.
Ravan and Roy, 1998 have again proved potential of GIS in landscape ecology by mapping
disturbance zones in natural ecosystem and quantifying its impact on the biodiversity and
biomass accumulation along the disturbance gradient. GIS was used in this study for quantifying
patch sizes, shapes, porosity and patchiness of vegetation types. GIS was also used to
extrapolate results of ground based estimations such as species richness, diversity index and
The results of above studies have assured the success in identifying bioprospecting zones for
conservation prioritization at regional level by making use of GIS, remote sensing and landscape
ecology. With the initiatives of Department of Space and Department of Biotechnology, the
concept of Landscape Ecology is being verified in the biodiversity hot-spots of Western Ghats
GIS technology, besides its contribution in scientific studies, has been accepted as the most
effective tool for decision-makers. Maharashtra Forest Department, under the leadership of J.S.
Grewal (Conservator of Forest) has established GIS for forestry at Nagpur. GIS for forestry at
Maharashtra is contributing in 4 different areas such as working plans, biodiversity, village
ecodevelopment, and plantation inventory for Forest Development Corporation. Similar efforts
have been put in by H.C. Mishra in Andhra Pradesh Forest Department. Many other state
governments are also making use of GIS for forest management, the results of such efforts would
be visible in near future.
NGO sectors such as World Wide Fund for Nature-India (WWF-India) and Tata Energy Research
Institute (TERI) have also stepped in the biodiversity conservation efforts using GIS. WWF-India
has already computerised third edition of forest cover maps of FSI in GIS environment. In
addition, baseline database on important national parks/sanctuaries are also developed. The
attempts have also been made to link taxonomic details of rare and endangered species to GIS
database. All these NGOs need the support from the custodians (generally govt. organisations) of
primary data on biodiversity.
Many Research Institutes working in the area of biodiversity conservation have started use of GIS
technology. Prominent among them is Wildlife Institute of India. Other institutions are G.B. Pant
Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development, Centre for Ecological Sciences (Indian
Institute of Science), Kerala Forest Research Institute, Gujrat Institute of Desert Ecology etc.
The above trends give impression that Research Institutes, State Forest Departments, Central
Government Agencies such as FSI, and NGO Sector can put hands together to save biodiversity,
the most valuable resource, of the country.
The huge amount of databases being generated by various organisations needs to be structured
for evolving information system for forest management. Such information system is scientific tool
for the forest managers to perform better in the area of forest/wildlife management and
experiences of the R&D work done at Indian Institute of Remote Sensing, Dehradun has resulted into the nation-wide efforts of identifying the bioprospecting areas for conservation. The objectives of the project are
The project is being executed in the Western Ghats and eastern and western Himalayas. DOS has prepared project manual explaining standard methodology for execution of the project. The project has made landmark contribution in the field of GIS. The software \u2018BIO_CAP\u2019 has been customized over Arc/Info GIS and can operate on different standardized databases. It provides facilities for display, overlay, integration, analysis, statistics, modelling of landscape.
Phase I of the project is implemented under coordination of Indian Institute of Remote Sensing,
Dehradun. The main organizations involved in the project are Natioanal Remote Sensing Agency,
Forest Survey of India, Wildlife Institute of India, G.B. Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment
and Development, Botanical Survey of India, French Institute (Pondicherry), Maharashtra Remote
Sensing Applications Centre, respective State Forest Departments etc. The contact person is Dr.
P.S. Roy, Dean, Indian Institute of Remote Sensing, who is also Project Director.
With technological progresses and associated need for more and more human comfort, the
demands for accurate weather forecasts for different spatial and temporal scales are also
increasing. In this context, application of emerging technologies for increasing accuracy and skill
of the weather forecast calls for special attention. Use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS)
software viz. Arc View to develop an application, for plotting, analysis, visualization, and
interpretation of weather data, to serve as an aid in the prognostication of weather is attempted in
this paper. The application developed can help the meteorologists in instantaneous plotting of
synoptic weather data from different locations at various isobaric levels of the atmosphere.
Analysis of this data, for visualization and interpretation of weather systems over wide geographic
areas become possible with less effort and error. Facilities available include, provision for
superimposition of synoptic weather maps of the past with the present for tracking of movement
of weather systems, computation of their persistence, tendencies and trends. Weather maps at
different levels, or different days (past, present and future) can be superimposed and removed
with the click of the mouse for analysis and visualization of weather developments. Advancing the
weather systems forward or backward geographically for visualization of past and future (as
forecasted) movement of weather systems across geographical areas becomes easier.
Climatological data can also be plotted, departures from normals, tendencies, etc. calculated and
presented as charts. Satellite pictures, topographical information, etc. can also be plotted and
superimposed with other weather parameters for assistance in weather forecasting.
survive. As weather is the statement of its physical conditions at an instant, its forecasting is of concern to one and all living over the earth. As such, since time immemorial weather forecasting was a subject of grave concern for the physical scientists. But, due to extremely complex nature of various physical processes of the atmosphere, which lead to weather, these endeavors have always been met with limited success.
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