Full text: Remote sensing for resources development and environmental management (Volume 3)

Symposium on Remote Sensing for Resources Development and Environmental Management/Enschede/August 1986 
© 1987Balkema, Rotterdam. ISBN 90 6191 674 7 
Opening session 
President ofISPRS Commission VII 
Ladies and Gentlemen, 
On behalf of Commission VII of the ISPRS I welcome 
you all at our Symposium. We are very grateful that 
you have accepted our invitation. I welcome espe 
cially the honorary committee members and the 
sponsors of our meeting. I thank Dr. Van Spiegel, 
Director General for Science Policy for his willing 
ness to address and open this conference. Welcome to 
Professor Konecny and Dr. Tbrlegard, president and 
secretary general of ISPRS and a special welcome to 
our French colleagues who have organized the pre 
vious conference of this Commission in Toulouse. 
450 Specialists and 50 students are participating 
in this conference. Against the background of almost 
200 papers we are expected to make progress in two 
closely related subjects: 
1. in resources development; 
2. in environmental management. 
Resources development is a pressing need in the 
first place in the developing countries with rapidly 
growing populations: especially in Africa where food 
production and distribution problems are reaching 
dramatic proportions. The process of land develop 
ment in the tropics includes the uncontrolled 
destruction of tropical forests in an unprecedented 
way: the F AO estimates that each year at least. 11 
million hectares are deforested, three times the 
size of The Netherlands. The resulting land degrada 
tion is posing a global threat to our environment. 
By organizing this Symposium at the ITC we in 
tended to draw special attention to the developing 
countries. I am very pleased with the many papers 
and participants from these countries, including a 
large number of ITC-alumni. I should like to mention 
here that both ITC and Commission VII were an in 
itiative of Professor Schermerhorn, taken during the 
ISPRS Congress in The Hague in 1948. 
In the developed countries quite a different 
situation is now emerging, here the production of 
agriculture commodities is reaching the point of 
market saturation, new technologies continue to 
increase the productivity per hectare. Thus remote 
sensing is expected to support processes of re 
allocation of land from agriculture to other uses. 
Furthermore the social cost of the environmental 
pollution caused by industry and modern farming has 
reached levels which are no longer acceptable to the 
commuai ty. 
In The Netherlands for instance we do not know 
anymore how to recycle all animal manure produced in 
the livestock sector. These very intensive farming 
systems use imported animal feedstuffs produced 
abroad on the equivalent land area of 2 million 
hectares, while the livestock sector in The 
Netherlands occupies only one million hectares. 
What to do about forests which suffer from acid 
rain? Also recycling of chemical wastes and radio 
active materials is apparently presenting new 
challenges to environmental management. 
During the previous Commission VII meeting in The 
Netherlands in Delft in 1962, the President Professor 
Edelman emphasized - especially in developing 
countries - the urgency of aerial photo 
interpretation for natural resources inventory. 
There should be no doubt that aero-space survey is 
still one of the most important tools for investigat 
ing a country’s potentialities. But now, six Symposia 
later, there seems to be a shift in priorities. 
1. Resource inventory field techniques need to be 
re-assessed in view of the relevancy of the informa 
tion they produce, the speed with which the 
information can reach the user and the corresponding 
cost. Already new digital data processing techniques 
are posing challenging questions about the data 
collection techniques. 
2. There seem to be no fundamental differences 
between the developed and the developing countries in 
the kind of advanced remote sensing techniques, which 
can play a role in resources development and environ 
mental management. But the lack of qualified human 
resources is becoming a major constraint while the 
information needs are more pressing that ever before. 
To illustrate this: 
During the past 40 years a tremendous uncontrolled 
growth of urban centres has taken place in the 
developing countries. During the next 15 years the 
population of these urban areas will double. India 
now has one hundred cities with more than one million 
inhabitants. To manage this growth process in a 
positive way requires an enormous production of large 
scale town maps, preferably at a very low cost. After 
World War II Europe achieved a very rapid reconstruc 
tion, not only thanks to the USA Marshall aid, but 
also thanks to the availability of qualified human 
resources and experience, including topographic maps 
and survey facilities. 
In the developing countries the urban growth process 
is a new experience, there are very few maps avail 
able and the trained manpower is almost absent. We 
should keep this in mind during our deliberations on 
the application of remote sensing technology. 
At this moment remote sensing and computer assisted 
information management techniques seem to become 
promising tools for tackling the development and 
environmental issues I have touched upon. The suc 
cessful operation of the SPOT satellite, to be 
presented this week by Dr. Brachet, the advances with 
low cost aerial photography and the first results 
with geographical information systems will illustrate 
Nevertheless the problems of development, facing us, 
are of an overwhelming magnitude and complexity. This 
situation must have been the challenge of mankind 
through the ages. It explains the long tradition of 
modesty and understatement which characterize the 
true scientist. 
The International Society for Photogrammetry and 
Remote Sensing, during its 75 years of existence, has 
developed a scientific tradition of setting 
standards of precision and reliability, in par 
ticular for reaching cartographic standards in the 
production of maps. The society has become an essen 
tial forum for dialogue beween the industries which 
produce the technology, the instruments, the systems 
and the usei—community.

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