Role of Remote Sensing & GIS in Natural Resource Conservation

Text by Madhumita Borthakur

Courtesy- EOI Google

Technology has taken human civilization to another height. From a small pen to an orbiting satellite, every nook and inches of it paved the way of looking everything around us to a new dimension. Among all these technologies, space technology is very unique in itself. In this 21st century, space technology using sensors has added a breadth in classical approach of studies of almost all the formal disciplines.

Space technology was first developed during First World War to use as a means of surveillance on enemies which was developed till world war second for the same purpose. With the end of world war second and formation of United Nations, the nation’s approach of using space technology has diverted its meaning to use it for the development of mankind on earth. One of such is, Space technology in GIS that is Geographical information system has emerged as a powerful tool in the field of study of the physical earth and its atmosphere, biosphere and hydrosphere.

Remote Sensing, a way of understanding and obtaining information of the features on the earth, be it a physical feature or biological feature, without being directly contact or touched with it, is a revolutionary approach. Remote Sensing & GIS in management & conservation of natural resources is being largely used now a day. This technological approach helped to study the past, present and future scenario of existing natural resources in a very small span of time which would have taken years after years if followed in traditional ways. The analysis of historical images captured by various space platforms mounted with different sensors made possible to predict various phenomenon on earth by studying the type of changes through the decades.

GIS based assessment and monitoring of species and its habitat provides a powerful and scientifically approached decision-making support in their conservation efforts. It helps the conservation professionals to identify ecologically fragile and significant areas. The mutilation on environment enhanced by the anthropogenic activities caused many species extinction on earth.

Therefore, it is a high time to emphasis on prompt conservation measures with meticulousness, where this technological approach has proved befitting. Moreover, the wildlife and its habitat do not recognize any political boundaries that made by human beings. Furthermore, there are many inaccessible areas, where human reach is hardly possible. In such scenario it is difficult to bring out assessment data that covers large and inaccessible geographical areas with many regulations.

The Remote Sensing & GIS based studies can aid in such status quo to find out its extent and thus can help the conservational professionals in conservation and restoration of habitat to preserve the remaining species. While talking about GIS in conservation it has come out with lots of advantages through the studies like modelling on geographical distribution of species or species distribution modelling, wildlife corridor modelling, species genetic distribution modelling, habitat fragmentation, monitoring and restoration studies, habitat suitability studies, landscape analysis or studies, wetland studies, engendered animal and plant species studies, land-use and land-cover studies, vegetation studies and numerous of such kind that can assist strategic sustainable conservation and management practices. By using advance sensors one can even study and assess vegetation growth by measuring chemical content of leafs or stress affected by any diseases, thereby allowing predictions of various occurrences. Use of this technology in marine ecology is another milestone that widen up the studies on marine life assessment, marine pollution monitoring, human impact on marine and coastal life and a lot more in oceanographic research. Integrating of various data collected from field using GPS i.e. Global Positioning System and other data like satellite images, aerial photographs and Toposheets in GIS, helps to conduct various studies related to animals and its habitat. The use of this technology during ecological crisis like forest fire is helping to build resilience at large.

The overlay analysis of data in GIS provide insight to various problems occurring due to various changes identified and factors affecting the distribution pattern of flora and fauna. There are several techniques in GIS for hypothetical data visualization that provides near accurate, sensible & easily accessible information of understanding environment around us to mitigate the required attention & ensure security of mankind.

*Article republished from Janambhumi publication dated 9th September, 2020.

About the Author:

Madhumita Borthakur, GIS Analyst, working as a Spatial Database Officer in Geo-Spatial Technology & Application Division of Aaranyak.

You can reach her at

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