Geoinformation, monitoring and assessment Environment

Posted October 1999

Summary report

Regional Workshop for Decision-Makers on Remote Sensing/Geographic Information Systems Applications to Agricultural and Environmental Management

FAO/ESCAP, in cooperation with Kazakhstan National Aerospace Agency
Almaty, Kazakhstan
20 - 24 September 1999

Reported by Carlo Travaglia, Remote Sensing Officer, Environment and Natural Resources Service


The above workshop belongs to a series of activities intended to provide decision-makers with the necessary knowledge for deciding when and how remote sensing (RS) and geographic information systems (GIS) can be used in the management of natural resources. Further, the workshop aimed at strengthening cooperation on the RS/GIS fields among member countries and at providing a forum where knowledge in RS/GIS applications in sustainable agriculture and renewable natural resources management will be exchanged and transferred. The workshop was held in Almaty, Kazakhstan, for the benefit of countries of Central Asia and Eastern Europe.

Cooperation with ESCAP and the Kazakhstan National Aerospace Agency (NAA) made the implementation of the workshop possible. ESCAP funded seven participants and provided a lecturer and secretarial support to the workshop.

To enhance regional cooperation and exchange of experiences, six lecturers from the two sub-regions were involved in the programme and invited to present their most recent and operative RS/GIS applications.

The Kazakhstan National Aerospace Agency (NAA), the local cooperating agency, provided technical inputs, full local support including sequential translation and acted as local secretariat during the preparation and implementation phases.

SDRN prepared the workshop programme, tailored according to the needs of the two sub-regions, selected the lecturers, funded four lecturers and four participants, provided the satellite data for the field excursion and the necessary technical documentation, coordinated all technical inputs as well as the administrative aspects, and provided the workshop coordinator.


Sixteen participants from eight countries attended the workshop for its full duration. Participants were mainly at the level of Director/Deputy Director of Agriculture, Crop Protection, Water Resources, Land Use, Environmental Policy and Protection, Natural Resources, Economic Planning Departments/Services from Azerbaijan (3), Bulgaria (1), Georgia (1), Kazakhstan (5), Mongolia (2), Tajikstan (1), Turkey (2) and Uzbekistan (1).

Attendance, however, was much higher than foreseen, as about twenty local scientists working in the fields of RS/GIS attended all workshop activities, as this was an unique occasion to be exposed to modern methodologies and applications, mainly of high resolution satellite data. Lecturers were from FAO, ESCAP. Hungary, Kazakstan, Poland and Romania.


The workshop was organised, according to a well tested pattern, for a duration of five days, subdivided into sessions covering introduction and presentation of country reports, remote sensing and geographic information systems, and their applications to land cover/landuse, land degradation, land distribution, crop inventory and yields estimates, pasture, forestry and water resources. Discussion concluded each session. An interesting field excursion was carried out in the areas between Almaty and Lake Kapchagay, to show exact correlation between satellite data and a variety of land features.

The last day of the workshop was essentially dedicated to a review of the satellite data availability and accessibility in the area, to the analysis of cost/benefit of RS/GIS applications and to the identification, by the participants subdivided into two groups, of the thematic applications needed in their country/region and to the preparation of the relevant recommendations. These reports were later presented and discussed in a general session.

On the basis of participants' and regional lecturers' statements, and in consideration of the high interest showed by participants and observers, their active participation in discussions, and finally on their factual identification of needs and practical recommendations, the objectives of the workshop, as stated in the Workshop Information Note, have been fully met.

Comments and recommendations

Large differences exist in RS/GIS applications in the countries represented at the workshop, as clearly shown by the country reports. FAO TCP projects on RS/GIS applications to land cover/land use are now operational in Azerbaijan and Bulgaria. Kazakhstan and Mongolia have well structured RS/GIS centres, utilising very well low resolution satellite data for agricultural and environmental applications. However they have serious difficulties in introducing the much needed high resolution satellite data applications and need assistance on this. Some other countries are trying to create the necessary infrastructures. In this framework, exchange of experiences and information, as provided by this kind of workshop, is very important, as was recognised by all participants.

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