Specials Environment

Updated July 2003

Remote Sensing for Decision-makers

Satellite imagery and geographic information systems in natural resources planning and management

Case studies presented here are:

In this Special, we present summaries of seven FAO case studies on the use of remote sensing and geographic information systems in management of renewable natural resources in agriculture, forestry and fisheries. The summaries are adapted from the Remote Sensing for Decision-makers Series, a collection of 21 short papers available from the FAO Environment and Natural Resources Service (SDRN). The series is intended for heads and division directors of national and international organizations and administrations, as well as for project managers, planners and policy-makers of development institutions.

Remote sensing covers all techniques related to the analysis and use of data from satellites, such as Meteosat, NOAA-AVHRR, Landsat, SPOT, ERS-SAR and Soyouz, and from aerial photographs. The main objective of remote sensing is to map and monitor the earth's resources.

A Geographic information system (GIS) is a system of computerized information storage, processing and retrieval that has hardware and software specifically designed to handle georeferenced spatial data and corresponding attribute information. The spatial data are commonly in the form of maps, which may depict topography, water availability, soil types, forests and grasslands, climate, geology, population, landownership, administrative boundaries and infrastructure (main roads, railways, power grids, communications networks). The possibility of merging several maps in a single operation, known as "overlaying", is a key GIS function. (For more on GIS, see Special: Geographic information systems in sustainable development.)

For a full list of issues available in the Remote Sensing for Decision-Makers Series, see Resources/FAO Publications on Remote Sensing. Copies can be obtained from:

Environment and Natural Resources Service (SDRN),
Sustainable Development Department,
FAO, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00100 Rome, Italy.
Tel.: (+39-06) 570-55583; fax: (+39-06) 570- 53369
e-mail: Jeff.Tschirley@fao.org

Note: The designations employed and the presentation of material in this brochure do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authority, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.

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