Posted March 2000
The TCP/BUL/8922 "Strengthening capacity in agricultural development through remote sensing and GIS" was approved by FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf on 7 May 1999 and initiated its activities in June 1999. The project is technically backstopped by FAO's Environment and Natural Resources Service (SDRN). At the local level, the government counterpart institution responsible for project execution is the Bulgarian Aerospace Agency (BASA), which is coordinating its work with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.
The transition in the past years in the Republic of Bulgaria from a centralised planned economy to a market-oriented economy has created a series of predictable problems and situations, which have negatively affected all aspects of life, but most importantly the land tenure and consequently agricultural production. Although other important sectors of the country economy have fully or partially recovered, the agricultural sector is still suffering from the transition problems. Important factors such as land ownership, land redistribution, agricultural credit, land tenure and agricultural cadastre are still to be properly confronted by the legislator. Consequently, there are large, formerly productive areas, which are now unused, new land uses or plot sizes unknown to central/ provincial authorities and in general there is a situation of confusion and lack of information which should be solved urgently if any agricultural plans and development are to take place.
Available thematic maps and information are of no use at present for the reasons indicated and also because they were prepared as baseline information for large state and cooperative farms on a centrally planned economy.
The extensive state farms and cooperatives do not exist any more and new detailed information is needed. For example, when land redistribution was initiated, the majority of the new potential tenants objected to the distribution as plots were carved out without any basic technical criteria. Consequently, land redistribution was stopped. Efforts to redistribute land are now continuing, but much good agricultural land still remains unused, pending its inventory and evaluation.
As demonstrated by optimal results worldwide, the integration of modern remote sensing (RS) and GIS methodologies offers the most convenient solution, both in time and money terms. At present, where large areas need to be thematically surveyed at frequent or seasonal intervals and their results to be integrated with traditional data, such as provincial/municipal boundaries, only RS/GIS methodologies are routinely considered.
The immediate objectives of the project are:
The achievement of these urgent immediate objectives will create the basis for the availability of accurate baseline information on land cover/landuse and associated land characteristics, thus enabling the country to prepare and implement sound agricultural development plans, including criteria for land redistribution. The medium term objective of the project thus envisages a well-structured BASA able to provide the relevant government agencies with accurate and timely information.
The specific outputs produced during the period of 18 months of the project will be:
After the first period dedicated to equipment provision, selection and purchase of the necessary satellite imagery, training of personnel in digital image processing, GIS and Land Cover Classification System (LCCS), the project is now actively mapping the three test areas at 1:50 000 scale, namely the Montana Region, Sofia Intermontane Valley and the Plodviv area.
A first example of the mapping activities of the project is reported herewith.
This region is situated about 120 km north of the capital Sofia in the Danube Plain. It is almost covered by arable land and main crops are winter wheat, winter barley, maize and sunflower. Owing to the collapse of the large cooperatives, recently a considerable portion of the arable land is unused.
Two Landsat TM images of the Montana Region are below. The first has been acquired on 19 November 1991, the second on 2 August 1998. Although of different seasons, the two images show clearly the effect of the land redistribution : large fields in 1991, parcellization in 1998. The two Landsat images are presented in the same False Colour Composite rendition, that is 4/5/3 (red, green, blue).
The third image below is the Land Cover Map extracted from the 1998 data, using both automatic and visual classification. Original scale of this map is 1:50 000. This Land Cover Map will be reclassified according to LCCS, adding all necessary environmental attributes. such as soil units, land degradation and so forth. The resulting georeferenced database will be made available to Government agencies in CD-Rom format.