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Information Services Group

The Computer Services Unit supports 120 users at CIFOR and 50 more at the neighbouring Southeast Asia office of the International Centre for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF), which moved to CIFOR’s headquarters complex in early 1998. With the completion of Phase 2 of the headquarters complex, CIFOR’s computer network was expanded to all buildings. Another major accomplishment was shifting all PC desktop computers to 32-bit operating systems and ensuring that all computers are Year 2000 compliant.

In 1998, CIFOR switched its e-mail system to Exchange and replaced its e-mail client software from MS Mail to MS Outlook. Mailboxes can now be accessed from the Internet, and this remote-access capability is heavily used by staff during travel. CIFOR’s many databases set up in Lotus Notes are also accessible through the Internet, with a recent upgrade to Domino. Finally, the Computer Services’ workshop and office space was redesigned and expanded to accommodate increased staff and operations.

In January, Ian Wallace, head of the Information Center at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), completed a review of CIFOR’s library. Several of his recommendations were later implemented. The library space was expanded and rearranged to accommodate additional reading space, a new reception area and two computers for library users. New Ariel software (an electronic document delivery system) and a scanner were purchased in 1998. A copy of the software was donated to the Center for Agricultural Library and Research Communication (CALREC) in Bogor to improve document delivery to Indonesian researchers.

The library also developed a new database for the inventory of all CIFOR publications, both in-house and external, using Lotus Notes. Almost all publications since 1993 have been included in this database. It also allows outputs in different formats according to users’ specific needs.

GIS services at CIFOR undertook two major activities in 1998. The first was a spatially explicit model of deforestation in Bolivia. Conducted in the Province of Santa Cruz, the study is looking at the impact of past road construction on deforestation and land use, expected impacts from future road construction, impacts of zoning policies such as forest concessions and protected areas, and the influence of cultural factors on forest clearing and fragmentation. Preliminary findings of the analysis were presented at a major modelling conference in Jakarta in October 1998, which was co-sponsored by CIFOR.

A second major GIS project produced a spatial characterisation of non-timber forest product markets in the Humid Forest Zone of Cameroon. It encompassed 25 markets, highlighting their various types, links among them and areas of influence. The study demonstrated the usefulness of spatial components to analyse relationships between forest resource endowments and socioeconomic demands. Four main types of markets based on size, role and functional connections were identified, and thematic maps were constructed showing, among other things, the distribution of selling markets by size of the market and types of commodities sold; the distribution of NTFP trading grouped by value; and the intensity of NTFP trading in the area surveyed.

Apart from these two major projects, other GIS work was conducted to support CIFOR research in the Alto Juruá Reserve in Acre, Brazil, and in Bulungan Research Forest in East Kalimantan, Indonesia.

CIFOR’s multimedia services were heavily used in 1998. A number of computer-generated presentations both for in-house and international conferences and meetings were produced using graphic design and multimedia software. The division was also busy in 1998 catering to increased demand for electronic publishing. In December, CIFOR launched a new CD-ROM containing full documents of most of CIFOR’s internal publications as well as a complete reference list of external publications by CIFOR staff and partners. A total of 68 internal publications and 300 references of external publications were included.

The CD-ROM product was developed jointly by the Information Services Group and the Communications Unit. The 12-member team worked intensely for nine months to complete the task. It was CIFOR’s first electronic archiving experience, and the data preparation stage – collecting and verifying all documents and publication references – was a challenge. Where electronic files for documents were unavailable, publications had to be scanned using optical character recognition (OCR) software. Editing and reconstruction of some original files was also necessary to make sure that the pictures, illustrations and text were in publishable form. The CD-ROM’s navigation system for users is provided in PDF format with an attractive graphic design. The CD is also equipped with full-text search facility.

In 1998, additional features were developed for CIFOR’s Management Information System (MIS), which was formed in 1997. These include improved accessibility for staff through remote access while travelling, flexibility in regard to different outputs and formats (electronic and printed), and improved links with other CIFOR operations. Software was updated in relation to this.

Also in 1998, several new databases were created for the library to archive CIFOR publications. The total number of data records is currently about 300; they will eventually be linked to CIFOR’s "publications pipeline" database, a workflow application set up in Lotus Notes to monitor the status of research papers and articles under preparation by CIFOR staff. This database was introduced in 1998 and is jointly managed by the Communications Unit and the Research Division, with technical support from the MIS unit.


Information Services Group

Publication and Dissemination

Public Forum in Japan