(Item 8 of the Agenda)
72. Five papers were presented to the Commission under Agenda Item 8. The first two papers, Document APCAS/04/08, "Remote Sensing for Crop Production Forecasting: Indian Experience" and Document APCAS/04/09, "Use of Remote Sensing for Agricultural Statistics", discussed the use of remote sensing in agriculture. In the first paper the Commission was informed that crop production forecasting methods in India were comprised of crop identification, area estimation and crop production forecasts. The Commission understood that crop identification and discrimination were based on the fact that each crop had a unique spectral signature in space and/or in time and that remote sensing technology was used in crop production forecast, crop area estimation, crop yield forecasting, crop condition assessment, and crop growth monitoring systems carried out by various agencies in India.
73. The Commission was advised about the reliability of remote sensing technology in estimating crop production when compared to field enumeration. The Commission later noted that remote sensing was often combined with traditional methods of data collection.
74. In the second presentation the Commission learned that the United States of America National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) used remote sensing technology to enhance, but not to replace, its programme of acreage estimates. The Commission was advised that this technology was applied in three areas with respect to crop acreage estimates, namely, the operational construction of the nation's area sampling frame for agricultural statistics, the statistical precision of crop acreage estimate indicators, and the formation of a public use of GIS data file called the cropland data layer.
75. The Commission was informed of the uses of remote sensing in fisheries through Document APCAS/04/INF5, "Application of Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Systems in Fisheries" and Document APCAS/04/10, "Application of Remote Sensing and GIS in Fisheries".
76. The Commission was informed that remote sensing technologies and GIS were becoming useful tools for fisheries development and management and that their application to fisheries could be traced back to the late 1970s. The Commission understood that these technologies were being used in three broad areas in the fisheries sector, namely, a) marine capture fisheries - as an aid to efficient harvesting; to characterize marine/coastal environments; to assist ecosystem approach to fisheries management; to assist in effective zoning; and, to assist in monitoring, surveillance and control of illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing; b) inland capture fisheries - to monitor or assess inland fishery related parameters such as small fishing gears, permanent water bodies, seasonal water bodies, wetlands and their habitats, extent of seasonal and annual inundation, vegetation classification, and land use patter; to use for wetlands mapping; monitoring dry season refuges; and, to use for fishery management; and, c) aquaculture - to use for rational decision-making on site selection and for effective management of aquaculture sector.
77. The fifth application presented to the Commission related to the use of remote sensing techniques in forestry by the Forest Survey of India (FSI) through Document APCAS/04/11, "Remote Sensing Based Forest Resource Mapping Applications". It was explained to the Commission that FSI had used LandSat imagery pertaining to the period 1981-83 for the first assessment of the forest cover using scale of interpretation of 1:1 million and discovered that the forest covered in India was estimated at 19.52 percent of the country's geographic area or 642,041 km2. During the second, third and fourth cycles of forest cover assessment, better spectral and spatial dissolution of satellite data were used with higher scale of interpretation of 1:0.25 million while the fifth assessment in 1995 and subsequent years was based on visual interpretation of imageries for which IRS-IB (India Remote Sensing technology) data were used. Beginning in the year 2001 LISS III data and survey of India toposheets at a scale of 1:0.05 million provided an upgraded basis for interpretation. The remote sensing technique was also applied to assess trees outside forest. According to this study, the area under forest cover was 20.55 percent and trees outside forest was 2.48 percent, amounting to total 23.03 percent of the total geographical area of the country.
78. The Commission noted that FSI had developed a methodology in 1995 for growing stocks of forest in the country by integrating its three main activities: mapping of forest cover using satellite data, thematic mapping of forest land use with the aid of aerial photographs and field inventory and understood that this methodology had been employed by FSI to assess changes in growing stock, biomass and carbon stock for the forest of India and that forest fire maps had also been prepared. However, the Commission recognized both the limitations of remote sensing and its immense capability in mapping forest resources.