LAHORE: Department of Forest Punjab is managing 1.6 million acres of forest land area – 67 per cent of the entire forest land area in Punjab – under the Geographic Information System (GIS), Pakistan Today learnt reliably on Friday.
The program enabled the forests department to ensure sound management and introduce state of the art record-keeping and mapping methods.
‘Development of GIS-Based Forest Management Information System in Punjab’ was approved at PC-1 with a cost of Rs75 million and a gestation period of 36 months (2016-2019) has allowed for transfer of all forest resources and inventories into IT-based inventory systems and achieved extensive field surveys, rapid data collection and its processing for development of the forestry sector on efficient lines.
The project also ensures better forest planning, management and monitoring on scientific lines by mapping through remote sensing and development of GIS-based centralized forest data repository in the province with an amount of Rs59.249 million incurred against the release of Rs64.247 million up to September 2019.
A forest department official told this scribe, “An area comprising 222,596 acres was mapped using GIS and satellite imageries through an ADP (Automatic Data Processing) funded development project titled ‘Institutional Support for Planning and Evaluation Cell of Punjab Forest Department’ (2010-16). In addition, the forest department plans to develop GIS-based FMIS (Financial Management Information System) and completed centralized GIS-based data repository record of 680,969 acres (222,596 acres already mapped and new area of 458,374 acres) along with obtaining satellite imagery under the said project”.
The official further informed, “The credible appraisal, planning, monitoring and evaluation through GIS will lead to better monitoring of afforestation undertaken annually by the department. This database will be very useful for preparation of future development and management plans of the forest sector at national level”.
Forest GIS Lab Manager Shahid Imran informed, “The project was started with an aim to strengthen forests monitoring by mapping through remote sensing (RS) and GIS techniques. Our field staff has conducted comprehensive GPS surveys for collection of coordinates. Similarly, we have also created a geo-database of demarcated forest boundaries on the basis of surveys, revenue records, working plan maps and historical records. The department also corrected the revenue record and data through a GPS survey. Remote sensing technique has been applied for cover assessment of forests to populate maps”.
“Similarly, the project was also aimed to develop a centralized GIS data repository, in which we created forest hierarchies of zone, circle, and division for GIS and RS frames and uploaded all maps in concerned repository under zone, circle, and division. We have also developed the WEB GIS-based FMIS under the project in which we develop different spatial and non-spatial modules for management and planning of forests”.
Imran further said that GIS nodes have been established in Rawalpindi and Multan where training and capacity building sessions of forest field formations and GIS lab staff are being conducted.
“Almost one million acres of forest land in Punjab is now being managed under GIS-based FMIS which is almost 67 percent of total forest land in Punjab,” he concluded.