[Better Tools for
GIS and Remote Sensing
GIS and ENVIRONMENTAL INFORMATION management systems are now critical tools in forestry and other areas of natural resource management. Researchers face new challenges, however, related to scale, dynamic changes in landscape patterns, accuracy and integration of data, efficiency of analysis and alternative applications as in monitoring the status of biodiversity.
Workshops in 1998 addressed many of these issues. The International Conference on Data Management and Modelling for Tropical Forest Inventory, held in Jakarta, Indonesia, in October and co-sponsored by CIFOR. The conference explored a variety of ways to improve monitoring and assessment of forests and their resources, and to improve simulated modelling and data collection for land use decision making.
GIS and other technologies are central to much of CIFORs research. In one new innovative application, researchers in the Humid Forest Zone of Cameroon used GIS techniques to better understand the characteristics of markets for non-timber forest products. Although NTFP market studies usually mention some spatial characteristics that influence the commercialisation of NTFPs, such as distance, transportation infrastructure, population size and forest distribution, few have used GIS as a tool for analysis. The use of this technique gave the CIFOR scientists and their colleagues a more complete understanding of the spatial structure of the markets and the dynamics of NTFP trade in the area highly useful for more targeted policy interventions.
Similarly, a major new programme of NTFP research in East Kalimantan, Indonesia, by CIFOR and its partner institutions will benefit from a GIS and spatial analysis component launched in 1998. The GIS/spatial analysis work, funded by a grant from the Canadian International Development Agency, will measure and map land use and forest cover changes over the past decade, as a framework to support studies of local inhabitants reliance on NTFP trade at different stages of forest development.