Greening beams

  • 28/02/1996

Greening beams GEOSPHERE versus biosphere interactions not only precipitate but also moderate changes in the global environmental system. While several studies have concentrated on modern anthropogenic activities, the socioeconomic dimensions of human-environment relationship over time has not been properly documented. It is here that the remote sensing and geographical information system (GIS) have a prospect of augmenting capacities and generating primary databases on the environment and natural resources.

The importance of Global Environmental Change... lies precisely in its excellent documentation of applying these techniques to various ecosystems. The book contains 26 papers revised and updated, presented at an international seminar on Monitoring Geosystems - Perspectives for the 21st Century, at the Delhi University in December 1991.

In a well-written introduction, the editor surveys the state-of-the art geographical monitoring and forecasting systems in India, and lays a strong case for integrating the GIS approach to microlevel planning cited in the book (there are at least five GIS applications which vary from wilderness assessment in Australia, using a wilderness inventory method to mountain soil erosion of Nepal's hills, to monitoring grassland biomass and productivity in northern Botswana, and the like). However, the case study of Hanguranketa region in Sri Lanka by R Premalal stands out. The study has been supplemented by a lot of policy recommendations which follow directly from the analysis, thereby making this one of the few papers likely to interest the uninitiated.

For mapping and monitoring, while the case study of Rann ingress in Gujarat is an example of well presented research, the Russian study of ecological crisis zones fails to enthuse. Other case studies on monitoring include glacier fluctuations in the western Himalaya and dryland saline discharge areas. They build a strong case for the GIS as a viable tool for further monitoring. Also interesting are discussions on human impacts on and human responses to environmental degradation by the authors Murai and Honda, Kasperson and Katupotha, who studied the human response to landslide hazards in Sri Lanka.

This is no funbook for the lay, fashionable environmentalist. Instead, it is a good document that provides sufficient data about human activities and the consequential effects of changing land use pattern, which have become heavily dependent on the GIS and remote sensing devices.

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