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WWF-Pakistan celebrates GIS day

Posted on 18 November 2016

Lahore, The Geographical Information System (GIS) laboratory of WWF-Pakistan celebrated GIS Day to bring forth the importance and the need for innovative spatial solutions that have become increasingly important for an efficient approach in managing complex environmental issues. A geographic information system is a computer system for capturing, storing, creating, editing, and managing spatially referenced data into richly detailed maps that can be thoroughly analysed.

WWF-Pakistan has the largest environmental conservation GIS set up in Pakistan. It was established over 10 years ago as a facility to handle large geo-spatial datasets related to environmental management and conservation in Pakistan. Since its inception, the organisation’s GIS laboratory has conducted a number of surveys of great ecological importance which includes National Forest Cover Assessment; Boundary Delineation and Re-notification of Protected Areas; Agricultural Land Use and Agro-ecological Zonation of Gilgit-Baltistan; Spatial Analysis of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Development Along Major Roads, Karachi; and Billion Trees Afforestation Project in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

The GIS laboratory services were also requested by the Lahore High Court (LHC) in a Sou Moto case against encroachments in Murree forests on 27 January 2010, in order to warrant a purposeful analysis. While the precise nature of questions was being deliberated before the honourable Court, the GIS team of WWF-Pakistan provided a detailed atlas, highlighting the encroachments and with the use of Satellite Remote Sensing (SRS) provided input to identify the historic trend of the natural forest in the area. Using the atlas as a reference the honourable LHC in its ruling ordered the Forest Department to retrieve the encroached land and rehabilitate the depleted forest cover.

On the occasion of GIS Day, Dr Masood Arshad, Director Climate, Energy and Water, WWF-Pakistan stressed the need of GIS as a tool for solving environmental problems in a more sustainable manner. “GIS technology provides a more holistic perspective on environmental degradation and climate change and is helpful in locating where the problem actually lies. The technology is being utilised the world over in many fields and businesses, and it’s about time Pakistan invests in the use of this technology and reap its dividends.”

Each year GIS Day is celebrated on the third Wednesday of November. The first formal GIS Day was celebrated in 1999. Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) president and co-founder Jack Dangermond credits Ralph Nader for being the person who inspired the creation of GIS Day. He considered GIS Day a good initiative for people to learn about geography and the uses of GIS. He wanted GIS Day to be a grassroots effort and open to everyone to participate.


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