Geographic information system

GIS-Geographical Information System:-

Geographic Information System (GIS), is any system that captures, stores, analyzes, interpret and manages, and presents data that is linked to location, or its associated characteristics.

Technically, a GIS is a system that includes mapping software and its applications to RS,landsurveying,aerial photography,mathematics,photogrammetry,geography, and tools that can be used and implemented along with GIS software..

GIS applications are tools that allow users to create interactive queries (user-created searches), analyze spatialinformation, edit data, maps, manage and interpret it and present the results of all these operations.

GIS Applications:

The use of GIS technology can be made in many areas, such as resource management,archaeology,EIA, urban planning,cartography,criminology,geographic history,marketing,logistics,fire mapping, and other purposes.

For example, GIS can help concerned emergency planners to calculate emergency response times (i.e. logistics) in the event of adisaster, in a relatively short time, being trained. GIS might be used for the exploration of wetlandsthat needs pollution protection, or GIS technology can be used by new or older firms or companies to site a new business location, to take benefit of a previously under-servedmarket.

Reasons for the increasing use of GIS by forestry professionals:

  • Reduced cost of computer hardware and software
  • Technological advances in computer hardware and software
  • User friendliness of software
  • Availability of trained manpower
  • Save time and money, although initial set up cost may be higher
  • Trustworthiness of technology
  • Ease to update (forest is ever-changing).

GIS Applications in Forest Management:.

Forest Management:-

Forest management is thebranchofforestrythat primarily or wholly deals with the overall administrative, economic, legal, and social aspects and with the essentially scientific and technical aspects, especiallysilviculture,protection, and forest regulation. This particularly includes managing aesthetic,fish, recreation, urban values,water,wilderness,wildlife,wood products,forest genetic resourcesand otherforest resource values.

Management can be based on conservation, economics, or a mixture of the two. Techniques include the extractiontimber,plantingandreplantingof variousspecies, cutting roads and pathways through forests, and preventingfire. (wikipedia,2010)


Geo visualizers worked with European foresters made applicable the use of common GIS and Visualization Toolkit (VTK) to visualize a large set of spatio-temporal data related to European forests, this all allowed data to be explored by non-experts over the Internet. but the effort's outcome was regarded as an "uncontrolled exploration". While the geo visualizers focused on the ability of geo visualization to aid in knowledge construction.(wikipedia).


There are various application of GIS and other technology, that is used along with GIS ,in the forest management. numerous researches have been carried out in this department(forest management),by utilizing GIS based technology; thus underlying its applications in that particular department.

Major application areas for GIS in forest management

  1. Forest health monitoring: includes insect pest monitoring
  2. Resource inventory: includes resource assessment and inventory
  3. Forest fire and emergencies: includes pre-planning and post fire assessment
  4. Forest conservation and biodiversity: focused on conservation
  5. Forest road access and harvest scheduling: road network and harvesting
  6. Forest ecosystem management and rehabilitation: ecology and ecosystem
  7. Wildlife habitat: wildlife habitat conservation and planning
  8. Water wetlands and watersheds: conservation of soil and watersheds, and wetlands
  9. Recreation and community-based eco-tourism
  10. Strategic planning: strategic planning purpose
  11. Participatory planning: planning with involvement of local communities.

Green(1994) stresses the requirement in all forest management for up-to-date information to (i) describe the resources of interest, (ii) predict what will happen to those resources if certain actions are undertaken, and (iii) prescribe the best course of action given specified goals.

RS (remote sensing) technique and GIS technology ,together have been used to identify the diverse wood types ,specifically a wood type named; Cupressus sempervirens,for rehabilitation of deforested area in one of the water shed named; Chaharmahal Bakhtyari Province in Iran(A.Palham Abbasi, S.J.Khajedin , H .Khademi).

In this research, first of all the factors affecting ecology and its related needs w.r.t area specification along with the germination process of plants ,that was affected by environmental factors were assessed.

According to the carried out approach, Potential habitat of a species of Cupressus sempervirens in that particular water shed area was determined by making use of RS and GIS techniques. In order to accomplish the desired goal, different maps regarding soil, geology, topography and climate were collected and then digitized. all that provided with the necessary information layers. These layers included, forest covering, rangelands, rocks out crop, dry land and irrigated farming lands .By utilizing different scientific sources, differentiated ecological needs of Cupressus sempervirens were provided ,and further on the basis of these known needs, the properties of that area having various information layers were made. And at the end, by integrating and combining these layers with each other, it was notes that about 1150 hectares of area belongs to suitable habitat of Cupressus sempervirens, in the area under investigation. This research focused on a fact that GIS and RS are the perfect tools for studying forest resources and for change detection in different areas of forestry.

In Nepal, a research was carried out in which the woody vegetation of forest and shrub covers were analyzed by making use of the most powerful analysis tools, i.e., GIS and RS. Nepal forest inventory was assessed with Landsat satellite imagery. Based on satellite imagery, it was not possible to define a certain canopy closure for limiting forest from non-forest. Therefore, a threshold value of the combination of Landsat bands (NDVI value) was chosen as a proxy. Normalized difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) was applied for separating forested land from non-forested land in the satellite imageries. Some districts were assessed by utilizing district forest inventory and the remaining hilly areas were assessed by aerial photo interpretation. The results were combined from the three different types of forest inventories in order to have an estimate of the woody vegetation cover of the country.Besides the success of the used approach, the methodology cannot be used in the hilly area of the country having slopes, shades along with the availability of highly inaccurate data so far. However, remote sensing and GIS tools are being used only for the preparation of woody vegetation cover maps of the hilly areas to some extent for planners and decision-makers.(Gyani Babu Juwa)

GIS technology can be used to monitor green house gases; a most concerned issue by environmentalists these days. The approach is being implemented to be used n New zealand . i.e., Carbon Accounting Program Using Geospatial Technology to Meet Kyoto Reporting Requirements.

The New Zealand Ministry for the Environment is implementing geographic information system (GIS) software from ESRI to analyze, measure, and report greenhouse gas emissions and land-use change. GIS will be used to comply with the reporting requirements of the Kyoto Protocol in an effort to reduce greenhouse gases, that shares a major contribution to Earth's climate changes.

The Land Use and Carbon Analysis System (LUCAS) is built on a geospatial system developed by New Zealand-based ESRI business partner Explorer Graphics Ltd. (EGL). The system supports complex carbon based calculations, using validated and quantified land use and land-use change information. New Zealand is required to report on greenhouse gas emissions and removals arising from land use, land-use change, and forestry activities. LUCAS will enable New Zealand to meet its Kyoto Protocol reporting requirements for carbon stock and carbon stock change including the annual National Inventory Report, which can be used for reporting to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Forests break down carbon dioxide and store it during the forest's natural processes of photosynthesis and respiration. This process adds up to the more carbon contribution for climatic change by natural increment of carbon dioxide levels. Arc GIS supports scientific methods for calculating carbon sequestration by using validated and qualified land-use data. At the end, it shows yearly change in land-use information (ESRI, 2009).

GIS technology can also be used for the estimation of wild fire hazards. One of the researches used the same approach for Calculating Wildfire Hazard LevelsAlgebraic Raster Construction Using Spatial Analyst, for Colorado's West Zone wildfire management (Julia S. Christiansen).According to this approach, Arc GIS Spatial Analyst was used to develop a raster grid layer, predicting degrees of wildfire hazard levels within a western Colorado fire management zone. The layer was constructed using the Reclassify and Raster Calculator utilities. Slope, aspect, and fuels were considered as factors affecting wildfire behavior. Assigned break and integer values allowed map algebra expressions to derive output cell values based on summed integers and an if-then-else conditional function.

A geo database of forest inventory contains information about stand species, age, stand classification, and other basic forestry information. The database also includes habitat and wildlife information. On the basis of this provided data, the authority develops a forest management plan of activities. The plan includes forest stand location, as well as how much of each forest type is cut and during what season. The majority of harvesting is conducted using partial cutting systems where all trees are individually marked for either retention or cutting. GIS helps foresters to determine, what areas have been cut in the past and plan for what is to be cut in the future. Variables in formulating this harvest plan include not only the tree species, cutting cycle, and location but also other relevant information, such as road system by season (e.g., gravel versus winter road) and proximity to recreational values. Because the authority is required to make these plans available to the public, labeling, color coding, and legends are created in accordance with the map standard for fast interpretation. GIS also generates allocation maps to guide forestry contractors who perform work. The supervisors access these maps via GIS map catalog that allows them to view a digital map and print it if needed. As part of the work process, once management activities are completed, data is entered into the GIS database to create weekly and monthly reports. The GIS technician puts this information into the system and maintains an updated inventory of the state of the forest. Having a current forest database is an essential asset for people, managing a sustainable forest. Because GIS is connected to attribute tables, users can enter the data and create a new map that includes these changes. Users can select types of information from tables to include in their projects to produce a variety of different maps to show species, age, and habitat, as well as their relationships, necessary for forest management. (ESRI, 2009)

GIS Forest Units Map shows forest inventory of species, water, marshes, and more. It identifies the location of leading species within an area.(ESRI, 2009)

Besides stand management, GIS is used to track the forest's road systems. The road system geo database includes active roads, decommissioned roads, water crossings, seasonality, and more. Primary road information is made available to the public via web site. Other road information is kept confidential to maintain and protect park values. Wildlife data is also stored in the GIS for study and research. Species locations are plotted and their habitats protected. Because GIS works with tables, animal type and features can easily be selected and added to the map, along with identifying data. This can then be worked into the sustainable plan of the forest. For instance, moose aquatic feeding areas are denoted, and forestry operations are restricted around those areas during the season moose are using them. Protecting wildlife habitat is essential for meeting the mandate requirements of authority. GIS data about species and habitat can be easily shared with scientists researching the many aspects of the forest.(ESRI, 2009)

AFA uses GIS to maintain park zoning established by the Algonquin Park Management Plan. These maps show different usage types, for example, wilderness and nature reserves, historic zones, and recreation zones. Some private land is within the park's boundaries, as well as aboriginal values and archaeological sites.(ESRI, 2009)

GIS can also be utilized for accomplishing the goal of isohyet's mapping for rainfall's distribution in forests and surrounding areas. Similar research was carried out in Wombat State Forest. The research was commenced in July, 2003 and was accomplished in August, 2003. Annual average rainfall data from 52 rainfall stations around Wombat State Forest was collected, and software used to analyze and interpret data was ArcView GIS 3.2, MacGIDZO, Surfer 7.0 and MS-XL software.(Himlal Baral, 2004)

For accomplishing the desired goal, crude rainfall data was collected from BOM, i.e. Bureau of Meteorology (Melbourne Office of Australian Bureau) and was then rearranged according to station name. After that X, Y coordinate and Z as mean annual rainfall using MS Excel was assigned. Next step was to convert geographic coordinates in BOM data to Austalian Map Grid (AMG).Then spread sheet data was saved as a text or a data base file, so that data can be imported in ArcView GIS. hen by opening the ArcView GIS table, the file name was specified and added to ArcView window. the later processes included the addition of event themes and by specifying table name, along with W,Y field, the data was imported rainfall data).then grids were interpolated by specifying output grid and at the end, contours were created or added as a new theme and overlaid with other resource maps and then analyzed.(Himlal Baral, 2004)

Scientists, researchers and environmental managers can utilize GIS to study the environment and can model, how the environment is responding to natural and man-made factors. so with GIS software, one can:

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