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GIS mapping tags wetlands across UP

Identifying wetlands across Uttar Pradesh will now be an easier task.

Written by Tarannum Manjul | Lucknow |
February 3, 2011 2:06:09 am

Identifying wetlands across Uttar Pradesh will now be an easier task. The Remote Sensing Applications Centre (RSAC) has done the Geographic Information System (GIS) Mapping of wetlands of UP,giving each such area an unique digital code which not only identifies the state,district and the tehsil,but also its position on the topographic sheet and the local flora and fauna.

The exercise has helped the state forest department identify wetlands covering an area of over 11 lakh hectares and make specific management plans for each wetland based on its aquatic attributes.

The mapping project was initiated in 2006-07 and the findings have been shared with the state forest department. Scientist and Head of the Forest Resources and Ecology Division (RSAC) Dr TS Kachhwaha said: “The project was proposed by the Union ministry of Forests and Environment for all states and we were doing it for UP. The entire project gave a specific database for wetlands,which has become the baseline data for preparing any programme for the management and conservation.”

The mapping contributed majorly to identify the area covered by each wetland,which has 4.8 per cent of the total wetland concentration of India. Altogether,23,463 wetlands have been identified in UP,covering 11,45,000 hectares.

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Ballia has the highest concentration,followed by Sonbhadra. While Ballia has Surha Taal,Ghaghra and Ganga which contribute to the high concentration,the Rihand reservoir and the Sone river add to the wetland area in Sonbhadra district. The mapping was done in two stages — before monsoons and after. “Some of the wetlands vanish completely before monsoons and after monsoons,they become a source of rich aquatic vegetation. Hence it was important to map them in both seasons,” said Kachhwaha.

After mapping,each wetland was given a unique 15 digit code. The first 9 digits determine the state,district and the tehsil,the last six digits help determine its position on the Survey of India Topographic Sheet and classifies it according to attributes like vegetation and fauna. The project,says Kachhwaha,helps to clear specific queries related to wetlands.

“Suppose you want to know the total wetland area in a district,” he said. “All you need to do is check the wetlands which have the same code. Also,in case you want to know details like wetlands where a particular vegetation is less than 20 per cent,you can also identify it with this code. The names of the wetlands can change,but their GIS maps cannot.”

This is why the data,he said,can help plan long term management projects. The Principal Secretary (Forests) Chanchal Kumar Tiwari said with this data,the department has already planned that most of the big wetlands — spread over 2.5 hectares — will be managed as bird sanctuaries. Five of the biggest have been identified for an integrated development programme,which will be supported by the Union government as well.

The forest department invited experts including BC Chaudhary from Wildlife Institute of India,Sandeep Bahera from World Wildlife Fund and environmentalist Neeraj Srivastava who shared their ideas with officials including PCCF (Wildlife) BK Patnaik,PCCF (Forests) DNS Suman and the Chief Conservator,Forests,KK Jha,at a daylong workshop for discussing Sustainable Wetland Management in UP,organised in Lucknow on Wednesday.

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