Application of GISciences in watershed management

Watersheds are made up of a number of components. Watershed environments have several physical, biophysical, social, socio-cultural, economic, technological and institutional factors. Those factors are also influenced by policy interventions of different scales. These factors and policy interventions are interrelated to each other and sometimes very complicated to understand. The most difficult part of analysing watersheds is to combine several spatial factors to give the overall picture of the processes at work in a watershed. Without having the better understanding of the factors and interventions within a watershed environment the management activities could hardly achieve their goal. A holistic approach on collecting and integrating the watershed-based information is highly required for the better management of the watershed.
Geographic information systems (GIS) were devised in the 1960s as computer applications for handling volumes of information obtained from maps as well as for performing operations that would otherwise be too tedious, expensive, or inaccurate to perform by hand. Recent trends have been toward the development of GI Science and Technology. The last decade witnessed an unprecedented growth and development in earth observation data and applications. Earth observation techniques through remote sensing are proving to be more cost effective than ground-based techniques over large areas. RS data have the benefits of the synoptic view of a large area, which helps in obtaining the proverbial ‘bird’s eye-view’ of the features, especially of inaccessible mountainous watersheds. Furthermore, there has been an emergence of high-resolution satellite data in recent years, with a greater degree of spatial and temporal variations than ever before.
Advances in information and communication technology combined with earth observation technology and geographical analysis and modeling tools are now available to quantify, model, document, and disseminate information on key socioeconomic, environmental, and natural resources conditions and trends. This convergence of information technology (computers, databases, software, networks, especially the internet), and space science technology (remote sensing, global positioning systems) has provided effective and promising tools and methods for dealing with diverse terrain (watersheds) issues. Geo-Information (GI) Systems have emerged as powerful tools in integrating and analyzing information from divergent sources and presenting the results in an effective and efficient way. These factors have led to the creation of a suitable context for institutional and technological frameworks for the use and access of geographic information for improved decision-making.
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