Posts Tagged ‘GIS’

Plant data helps map potential ‘bio-cultural diversity’ hotspots

Plant data helps map potential ‘bio-cultural diversity’ hotspots

Potential ‘hotspots’ across Australia for finding plants used in Aboriginal traditional medicine have been identified through a partnership between an international biodiversity information facility and Macquarie University.

The study produced a map of potential ‘bio-cultural diversity’ hotspots – areas suitable for the occurrence of multiple species known to be used in traditional medicine. Credit: (From Gaikwad J, Wilson PD & Ranganathana S (2011) Ecological niche modeling of customary medicinal plant species used by Australian Aborigines to identify species-rich and culturally valuable areas for conservation. Ecological Modelling, in press, doi:10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2011.07.005)


Posted 12 September 2011, by Staff, ECOS Magazine (Csiro Publishing),


The Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) is an international, government-funded initiative focused on making biodiversity data freely available for scientific research and sustainable development. The Atlas of Living Australia (ALA) hosts the GBIF national node in Australia.

The modelling study brings together the ALA and the Customary Medicinal Knowledgebase (CMKb) research group, based at Macquarie University. Researchers used data accessed through the GBIF portal and Australia’s Virtual Herbarium (AVH) along with the latest modelling technology to identify suitable ecological niches for 414 plant species of medicinal importance.

The research, led by Macquarie University’s Professor Shoba Ranganathan, with Dr Jitendra Gaikwad as the first author, was recently published in the journal Ecological Modelling. The main outcome was a map of potential ‘bio-cultural diversity’ hotspots – areas suitable for the occurrence of multiple species known to be used in traditional medicine.

‘Many plants brought into Australia by early settlers have become an integral part of Aboriginal traditional knowledge. Global data on these plants is essential, and we obtained this from the GBIF,’ said Dr Gaikwad.

‘For Aboriginal people, their connection with the land is a matter of survival, emotion and culture – it is not just a piece of land for them.

‘So let’s say a mining industry identifies an area that is inhabited by an Aboriginal community. This methodology allows us to evaluate the cultural value of the land.

‘We have used medicinal value, but we can use other socio-economic, traditional knowledge and biodiversity conservation aspects as well.

‘The next logical step would be to select an area and validate the distribution of the species and the cultural value in the field. But before that, we need to have active participation of Aboriginal communities to validate the results.’

According to the Director of ALA, Donald Hobern, study represents ‘an exciting and novel use of multiple heterogeneous datasets to explore the linkages between phylogeny – the study of the evolutionary relatedness of life forms – ecology, chemistry and human use of biodiversity’.

Source: ALA/GBIF


Spatial epidemiology and spatial ecology study of worldwide drug-resistant tuberculosis

Spatial epidemiology and spatial ecology study of worldwide drug-resistant tuberculosis

Posted 03 August 2011, by Staff, 7th Space Interactive,

Drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) is a major public health problem caused by various factors. It is essential to systematically investigate the epidemiological and, in particular, the ecological factors of DR-TB for its prevention and control.

Studies of the ecological factors can provide information on etiology, and assist in the effective prevention and control of disease. So it is of great significance for public health to explore the ecological factors of DR-TB, which can provide guidance for formulating regional prevention and control strategies.

Methods: Anti-TB drug resistance data were obtained from the World Health Organization/International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (WHO/UNION) Global Project on Anti-Tuberculosis Drug Resistance Surveillance, and data on ecological factors were collected to explore the ecological factors for DR-TB.

Partial least square path modeling (PLS-PM), in combination with ordinary least squares (OLS) regression, as well as geographically weighted regression (GWR), were used to build a global and local spatial regression model between the latent synthetic DR-TB factor (“DR-TB”) and latent synthetic risk factors.

Results: OLS regression and PLS-PM indicated a significant globally linear spatial association between “DR-TB”and its latent synthetic risk factors. However, the GWR model showed marked spatial variability across the study regions.

The “TB Epidemic”, “Health Service”and “DOTS (directly-observed treatment strategy) Effect”factors were all positively related to “DR-TB”in most regions of the world, while “Health Expenditure”and “Temperature”factors were negatively related in most areas of the world, and the “Humidity”factor had a negative influence on “DR-TB”in all regions of the world.

Conclusions: In summary, the influences of the latent synthetic risk factors on DR-TB presented spatial variability. We should formulate regional DR-TB monitoring planning and prevention and control strategies, based on the spatial characteristics of the latent synthetic risk factors and spatial variability of the local relationship between DR-TB and latent synthetic risk factors.

Author: Yunxia LiuShiwen JiangYanxun LiuRui WangXiao LiZhongshang YuanLixia WangFuzhong Xue
Credits/Source: International Journal of Health Geographics 2011, 10:50

Copyright by the authors listed above – made available via BioMedCentral (Open Access).

Tree Audit To Assist In Care And Maintenance Of Trees


Tree Audit To Assist In Care And Maintenance Of Trees


Posted 02 August 2011, by Staff, WIBW-TV (Gray Television, Inc.),


(Lawrence, Kan.) – A census is underway. However, with this census, those surveyed will not be moving anytime soon.

Lawrence Parks and Recreation Department is currently performing a tree inventory, which will log trees in city parks and along the city’s right-of-way into a geographic information system database.

The Horticulture and Forestry Division is using software called TreeWorks to assist with the inventory with the goal of building a coordinated, comprehensive city tree management system.

The software features a mobile component for Parks and Recreation staff to conduct a detailed inventory, recording condition and species of trees, size, such as diameter, height and spread of tree, and other related information. Information is then transferred to the GIS database, which will assist in the care and maintenance of all the city’s trees.

Once the database is complete, it will be beneficial to coordinate city resources and prioritize work, such as storm emergency work, identifying high risk trees and regular programmed pruning and inspections. It will also assist staff in creating reports for federal assistance should Lawrence encounter severe damage from a storm and areas were declared a natural disaster.

“The horticulture and forestry staff are excited to begin a GIS map-based tree inventory,” Crystal Miles, horticulture and forestry manager, said. “We are currently training several city arborists to use the data collection equipment.

“Our main goal is to utilize the system toward increasing public safety in regards to caring for aging city trees, as well as promote good tree health for all trees in our parks and along the streets. This is a long range program that will take several years to complete.”

A geographic information system combines information with a mapping unit. It is a system designed to capture, store, manage, analyze and display data in many geographic forms. The information may be referenced in the form of maps, globes, reports and charts.

If anyone has knowledge of tree identification and would like to volunteer to assist with inventory collection, please fill out the volunteer form on the Parks and Recreation website at:

For more information, please contact Crystal Miles, at (785) 832-7970.

Sowing green dreams

Sowing green dreams


Posted 16 July 2011, by Sandeep Dua, The Times of India (Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd),

LUDHIANA: Twenty-year-old Gurmehar Singh and Amrit Pal Singh Dhillon, along with their friends, Gagandeep Singh Dhillon and Avninder Singh Khangura, both 21, have inspired many a youth and even several villagers to undertake environment-saving initiatives so as to maintain the beauty of Mother earth.

Third year civil engineering students at Guru Nanak Dev Engineering College (GNE College), they love environmental depiction photography, web-designing and computer-aided design ( CAD) and have volunteered to make Gill village as country’s first village to be mapped via Global Positioning system ( GPS). Apart from this, they have been planting around 500 saplings every season for the past two years at their hometowns and keeping water-pitchers for birds in summers at roof-tops. They also encourage their family members and friends to adopt such practices to help nature.

The four friends motivated students and staff of GNE College for such initiatives, the result of which was, direct massive plantation of 1600 saplings this year. District forest office provides free saplings to these youths, who also encouraged residents of Jassowal, Alamghir and Gill villages to change all 800 tubelights to CFLs, saving energy every month. Not only this, their example encouraged people to plant more than 2000 saplings in these villages. The youth said that when they started the initative to create awareness among people, many of their mates and residents used to make fun of them. These four, however, were determined to do something for the society and ignored the criticism. Gradually, people started supporting their campaign.

The four youngsters feel if people around the world start initiatives like these, future generations will have a better place to live in. They said every house can save around Rs 100 a year per bulb if everyone changes lighting system of their homes and make them energy-efficient in whatever ways they can. The next in line for these inspiring youths is massive installation of groundwater recharge and rainwater harvesting systems at their hometowns and college by next year.

Keyline Design and Geographic Information System Analysis

Keyline Design and Geographic Information System Analysis

Posted 15 July 2011, by Kathy Fairchild, The Innovation Diaries,

Keyline design is a relatively new concept to those located outside of Australia although its origins have ties to the American dust bowl of the 1930s.  Originally developed in the 1940s and 1950s by P.A. Yeoman on his farmland in Australia, this system of rainwater storage and gravity-fed irrigation is a method that provides long-term water security, conservation of soil through prevention of soil erosion, and sustainability of agricultural systems.

Yeoman developed the system based on his own experiments and on some of the methods recommended by the Soil Conservation Services of America (now known as the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service); a federal agency that was created to help conserve farmland and soil following the Dust Bowl ecological disaster.

Keyline design is a broad based land management system that uses the concept of permaculture to use the natural contours of the land to site, and to build, an interconnected network of ponds and canals to efficiently store water, irrigate the landscape, and recharge groundwater resources.  The “keypoint” to the system is a point where water tends to collect and drains into a canal, a tributary system or a water storage pond.  The “keyline” is water course that tracks the elevation of the keypoints.

Yeoman spent years understanding how rainwater, elevation, slope, aspect, and vegetation all effected water drainage and how slight changes in those systems could enhance water conservation.   Modern farmers now have access to technology that can significantly reduce the amount of time spent observing and mapping the landscape.

Geographic models can easily be generated with the use of satellite and aerial imagery, Digital Elevation Models (DEM), and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) which can greatly increase the effectiveness and scale of keyline design.  Much of this data is already available through local and government agencies but supplemental mapping work can easily be performed with the use of a professional grade GPS or Total Station.

GIS in particular is a very powerful cartographic analysis tool that can provide optimal locations to design and build keylines and keypoints of the system.  Watershed models can be created based on existing topographic and hydrologic datasets and these can be combined with soil type and vegetation datasets to provide an overall map and design plan for an optimal permaculture system utilizing keyline design.

The disadvantage to the use of GIS is that it is a highly specialized computer system that, due to the cost and training required to operate, is generally only available to companies and government agencies.   However, for the United States, most of the required data is available free online from the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the NRCS offers several conservation programs, data, and maps available to farmers and ranchers to promote sustainable practices.

Perhaps a polite phone call to a NRCS GIS professional may help you produce a keyline hydrologic analysis of your property.

(Ed Note: There are several free GIS programs available to the general public, and learning the basic enduser utilization of a GIS program is not difficult at all. Creating a GIS database, however, takes skill, experience and talent)

Geographic databases for 2011 released


Geographic databases for 2011 released

Posted 15 July 2011, by Staff, Commercial Carrier Journal (CCJ),

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics, a part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, has released the 2011 edition of the National Transportation Atlas Databases. NTAD 2011 is provided in shapefile format, which is compatible with most Geographical Information Systems (GIS) software.

The 2011 edition features updated datasets from last year’s NTAD and premieres the Customs and Border Protection’s border crossing database with data spatially enhanced by BTS. Substantial revisions also were made to national parks, waterways, railways and the Federal Highway Administration’s national bridge inventory.

This year’s NTAD consists of 32 datasets, 11 of which were updated for this 2011 release. The NTAD also includes intermodal terminals, national railway crossings, nonattainment areas and transit rail lines and stations, among other data layers.


(Ed Note: The free Federal Transit Administration National Transit Database is available for download at the following site: )

Missouri Guard uses Geographic Information System to track debris removal progression in Joplin


Missouri Guard uses Geographic Information System to track debris removal progression in Joplin


Posted 15 July 2011, by Staff, KOAM-TV 7 (WorldNow and KOAM),

News release issued by Missouri National Guard’s Public Affairs Office

JOPLIN, Mo. –It may be hard to imagine how much debris has been removed from areas devastated in and around Joplin or Duquesne, but the Missouri National Guard Task Force Phoenix – tasked with supervising the clean-up and removal process can show just how much progress has been made. In tracking the progression, a GIS map goes green as a parcel of land is clear and progress is being made.

“The maps are geographical representations of the area affected by the tornado,” said Sgt. Brandon Wolfe, geospatial engineer, with Task Force Phoenix.  “It helps us track the progression of the debris removal.”

The Missouri National Guard geographic information system team drives through communities collecting data as the debris removal process continues. As land is cleared, Missouri Guardsmen document it on a map where the cumulative data is then gathered and uploaded to produce debris assessment maps.

“We drive the same sectors everyday to document changes,” said Sgt. Jennifer Shepherd, Task Force Phoenix.  “This way we can see what stage the property is in.”

Each parcel on the map will get a letter to determine what needs to be done to the property.  When the property is clear and has no discrepancies, it goes from red to green

“We’re looking for many different factors in deciding what the property needs to be classified as,” said Sgt. Troy Smith, TF Phoenix.  “It could be a tree, a stump that needs to be removed, demolition, debris or rubble.”

This on-going mission is important to show the progress of the debris removal process and track where resources should be focused.

“The ability to graphically and visually observe database information allows us to more quickly and accurately analyze the status of the operation,” said Col. William A. Ward, TF Phoenix commander.

Printed maps of the GIS information are shared with agency partners and the local governments weekly in order to keep them abreast of the rapidly changing situation and so they can aid in keeping the public informed of the progress.

“The GIS allows us to share a common operating picture with all our partner agencies. FEMA, the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, the City of Joplin, and the Guard utilize the system to track the progress of debris removal and associated information, such as rights of entry, nuisance properties, and demolition,” explained Ward.

“As we approach the 7 August deadline for expedited debris removal, knowing where to target the debris removal operations will be critical to minimizing costs to the local governments and the State of Missouri.”

The GIS operation will continue until the National Guard services are no longer required for debris removal.  The date will be dictated by actual debris removal progress.

ISU Research Teams Study New Techniques For Agriculture

ISU Research Teams Study New Techniques For Agriculture

Posted 14 July 2011, by Jake Taylor, Local News 8 (MPG of Idaho, Inc.),

MCCAMMON, Idaho — An Idaho State University research team has completed a project that could drastically change how ranchers use their land. ISU’s geographic information systems focuses specifically on research that will have a real impact on local agriculture.”How can I use this to help me run my ranch better?” GIS Director Keith Weber said.The GIS just published a four-year study funded with a $1.5 million NASA grant. Researchers said it could change how ranchers have done their job for years.”We were able to do a study that could potentially improve grazing practices and improve rangeland health around eastern Idaho,” GIS research associate Kindra Serr said.The research shows that if cattle graze like a huge roaming herd of buffalo, where a lot of animals go into a relatively small area, devour almost everything there and then move on, it could benefit the land.It may be counter-intuitive, but researchers said it works.”The idea is that you put lots of animals in a small space, which you would think would actually destroy the land, when in reality it actually ends up improving the land,” Serr said.GIS set up test pastures at the university’s O’neal Ecological Preserve near McCammon.The pastures that used intense short period grazing had 10 percent more water in the soil than traditionally grazed pastures.Weber said that extra 10 percent makes a big difference.”That additional soil moisture is going to allow that pasture to grow more grass. That’s more forage for wildlife, more forage for the livestock, and ultimately for the rancher that is more beef,” Weber said.

Mapping Sacred Sites

Mapping Sacred Sites

Posted 12 July 2011, by Staff, Sacred Land Film Project (Earth Island Institute),

Mt. Shasta, California, North America – July 12, 2011 – TRT: 07:43

Maps tell stories, and control of the printing press allowed colonial powers to tell their own stories for centuries. A Native American tribe that was literally taken off the map in California’s history books — and is still unrecognized by the U.S. government — is using technology to put themselves back on the map.

On June 11 and 12, Eli Moore and Catalina Garzon of Pacific Institute, and Miho Kim of The Data Center, led a mapping workshop with the Winnemem Wintu Tribe to continue a long process of documenting sacred sites in the Winnemem’s traditional cultural territory.

On Saturday, mapping terminology and GPS skills were mastered in the Winnemem village near Redding, and on Sunday a dozen young people practiced their new skills while visiting four sacred sites along the McCloud River.

We filmed the workshop to include as a scene in our Losing Sacred Ground documentary series. All over the world, indigenous communities are incorporating mapping into their communication and outreach strategies, as they craft the stories they want to tell to the outside world about their struggles to protect land, culture, language and sacred sites. Mapping now figures into five of our eight stories: in Papua New Guinea, Ethiopia, Russia’s Altai Republic, the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, and in northern California.

As Winnemem leader Caleen Sisk-Franco says, “We need to create evidence to convince the Forest Service that this is a historic cultural district containing a network of sacred sites that all work together. Different places teach us different things and have different purposes. But we need them all.”

Check out our new film clip of the Winnemem Mapping Workshop here.

Ed Note: please visit the original site to view video associated with this article.