ISRO maps country’s vegetation
Meera Jasmine S
The fifth session chaired by Prof. Akhilesh Tyagi focused on Critical, Scientific and Technological Inputs. The session consisted of talks by distinguished Professors, Dr. S P S Kushwaha, Dr. A S Raghubanshi, Dr. Uppeandra Dhar and Dr Asha Juwarikar.
Prof. S P S Kushwaha of ISRO, Dehradun did a presentation on the topic “Satellite Remote Sensing and Geospatial Modeling for Biodiversity Assessment, Conservation and Monitoring”. He said the Government mainly focuses on the development of people rather than giving priority to the development of biodiversity. A software called Special Landscape Analysis for Modeling (SLAM) has been developed by ISRO. Using satellite imagery they have designed maps to show the natural vegetation and these maps are more than 85 percent accurate. So far 155 vegetation types have been mapped by ISRO. He pointed out that increasing population has resulted in forest fragmentation. ISRO is involved in the development of a relational database to preserve and provide data for the country. According to him space provides vantage point for monitoring and studying biodiversity as a complete system.
Prof. A S Raghubanshi spoke on “Diversity Disturbance Relationship in Dry Tropical Forests”. He emphasized that tropical dry forest are the most important biomes as it consumes 35 percent of forest in India. He explained how disturbance ( i.e. any relatively discrete event in time that disrupts ecosystem, community and population) plays a crucial role in maintaining biotic diversity. He observed that deforestation and fragmentation leads to reduction in diversity and in turn leads to reduction in diversity of species.
Prof. Uppeandra Dhar, Senior Scientist of NASI did a presentation on the topic “Application of Bioindicators to Assess Changing Patterns – A Case in the Himalaya”. He talked about biodiversity indicators and characteristics, which includes specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely indicators. With the help of these indicators progress can be measured, habitats, sites and species can be prioritized and stressors can be identified. For the study in Himalayas they chose 20 major temperate families there. He said that early flowering in alpine/subalpine is seen there when compared to temperate zones.
Prof. Asha Juwarikar, Chief Scientist of NEERI spoke on “Microbe-assisted Phytoremediation for Restoration of Biodiversity of Degrade Lands – A Sustainable Solution”. She talked about how to restore lands and forests contaminated by industries. It is estimated that 40 percent of world’s agricultural land is seriously degraded. The main reasons for land degradation are deforestation, erosion, mining, land pollution due to industrial waste, overgrazing and urban sprawl and commercial development. The main threats posed by the mining industry are the restoration of sustainable biodiversity and management of mine spoil dumps.