(LR) Lieutenant General Girish Kumar, General Surveyor of India, Usha Thorat, Chairman of the Board of Governors, FES and former Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, Dorine Burmanje, Co-President, Global Geospatial Information Management United Nations (UN-GGIM) and Jagdeesh Rao, CEO, FES, during the launch of the Indian Observatory at the GeoSmart India Conference in Hyderabad on Tuesday.
Open data platform for environmental conservation, community development launch
The Foundation for Ecological Security (FES), an NGO that works on the conservation of forest, land and water resources in the bases, launched its open data platform called the Observatory of India on the first day of the GeoSmart India conference, the Tuesday.
Lt Girish Kumar, General Surveyor of India, Usha Thorat, Chairman of the Board of Governors, FES and former Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, Dorine Burmanje, Co-President of the United Nations Global Geospatial Information Management (UN -GGIM) were present on the occasion.
The Indian Observatory gathers more than 1,600 layers of data on social, economic and ecological parameters in one place. It is freely available to civil society organizations, students, government departments and citizens, and includes 11 technological tools that help understand the state and plan interventions to conserve forests, renew water resources and improve community livelihoods .
These tools can work offline on smartphones and are available in local languages with easy to interpret codes and can even be used by semi-literary people. For example, the Composite Landscape Assessment and Restoration Tool, or CLART, helps identify the best areas for groundwater recharge under the MGNREGA scheme. GEET, or GIS Rights Tracking System, creates awareness about the rights of marginalized communities by monitoring household level eligibility. Similarly, the Integrated Forest Management Toolbox, or IFMT, contains tools that help both data collection and analysis and help forestry departments prepare long-term work plans.
On the occasion of the launch, Jagdeesh Rao, CEO of FES, said: «Working on forest, land and water issues needs a panoramic view, since these resources extend across human boundaries and a spatial view helps the strategy of preservation of threatened species, conservation of resources such as water and biomass and extraction of resources for human needs. Satellite images offer a better view than a bird's eye. Often, there are vast data sets, algorithms and tools available in a variety of organizations, but inaccessible to professionals and individuals, especially in an intelligible way. Through this initiative, FES is not only helping policy makers and administrators in making sound decisions, but also training people in villages and remote areas to build a bright future for themselves » .
“There is a need for sustainable and inclusive development and modern technology would play a great role in it. Sustainable Development means different things to different people, but in its essence, it tries to harmonize different needs and devise specific long-term solutions, ”Thorat said earlier, stressing that in the context of sustainability, it is important to realize that“ while that the ecological footprint of the poor is tiny, climate change and loss of biodiversity affect the poor more than the rich.
Burmanje said: “There is a need for broad global collaboration in the geospatial sector to foster innovation, instill dynamism. A group of expanding individuals is generating a greater impact of geospatial information. UNGGIM is playing a leading role in this regard, recognizing the need for geospatial data for decision making. It is important for the public sector to redefine in this tsunami of data ».
FES works towards the conservation of nature and natural resources through the collective action of local communities. The essence of FES's efforts lies in locating forests and other natural resources within the economic, social and ecological dynamics prevailing in rural landscapes. In September of 2019, FES was working with 21,964 village institutions in 31 districts of eight states, helping village communities protect 6.5 million acres of common land, including income from wasteland, degraded forest land and Panchayat grazing land , positively impacting 11.6 millions of people. FES supports the Panchayats and their subcommittees, village forestry committees, gramya jungle committees, water user associations and basin committees to improve the governance of natural resources. Regardless of the form of the institution, the organization strives for universal membership and equal access to women and the poor in decision making.
Ms. Debkanya Dhar Vyavaharkar