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Application of remote sensing and GIS for sustainable development

the average increase in temperature of 0.5 K. Even with
the adoption of revised Montreal Protocol regulation 0.5
(K), the global mean temperature rise is likely to reach 3
(K) which can result in the rise of sea level by 18-20 cm,
leading to recession of shoreline by 27-30m, change in
rainfall pattern particularly in the tropical regions, fall in
food production by about 15.0 per cent and 10.0 per cent
depletion of ozone (Rao, 1991).
Sustainable development of natural resources refers
to maintaining a fragile balance between productivity
functions and conservation practice through identi
fication and monitoring of problem areas, and calls for
application of alternate agriculture practices, crop
rotation, use of bio-fertilizers, energy-efficient farming
methods and reclamation of unutilized and under
utilized lands. Although the importance of the role of
holistic and systemic approaches to solutions for large
scale and complex socio-economic problems has been
emphasized for many years, it does not appear to have
been seriously advocated or experimented for
management of natural resources. The sustainable
development paradigm is built on the premise that
neither of the two objectives-economic development and
environmental protection - can be ignored and that an
acceptable balance must be achieved between the two
(Haimes, 1992). The World Commission on
Environment and Development (WCED, 1987) defines
sustainable development as that which meets the needs
of the present without compromising the ability of future
generations to meet their own needs. FAO (1989)
defines it as sustainable development is the management
arid conservation of natural resources base and the
orientation of technological and institutional changes in
such a manner as to ensure the attainment and continued
satisfaction of human needs for present and future
generations. Such sustainable development conserves
land, water, plant and animal genetic resources, is
environmentally non-degrading, technically appropriate,
economically viable and socially acceptable’.
Globally, key problems threatening natural
resources and sustainability of life support systems are:
(i) soil degradation (ii) the availability of water and (iii)
the loss of biodiversity (Hurni, 1957). Since the
unsustainable patterns of production and consumption in
the industrialized society and developing countries have
led to environmental degradation, the Governments of
the different countries have made the commitment to
foster sustainable development at the Earth Summit of
1992 in Rio de Janeiro. Agenda 21 of the summit
addresses these issues in detail and identifies the action
items for sustainable development. One of the issues
which is addressed in the agenda is the conservation and
management of resources for development. It could be
achieved by planning and management of land
resources, combating deforestation and conservation of
biodiversity, combating desertification and drought,
protection of the quality and supply of fresh water,
protection of the oceans and coastal areas, rational use
and development of their living resources, and
protection of the atmosphere from pollution. It is amply
clear from the foregoing that the environmental degra
dation process unless detected early and action taken to
arrest/mitigate, may lead to further deterioration.
For sustainable development of natural resources
Hurni (1997) has advocated an approach viz. sustainable
land management (SLM) and is of the view that the
natural resources can potentially be used in a sustainable
way if appropriate land management technology,
regional planning and the policy framework complement
each other in a purposeful way in accordance with the
principles and concepts of SLM. Sustainable land
management (SLM) has been defined as “a system of
technologies and/planning that aims to integrate
ecological with socioeconomic and political principles in
the management of land for agricultural and other
purposes to achieve intra- and intergenerational equity
(Dumanski, 1994; Hurni, 1996). SLM thus, comprises of
three development components, namely technology,
policy and land use planning. Following the
sustainability paradigm, ‘appropriate’ would require that
a technology follow five pillars of sustainability, namely
be (i) ecologically protective (ii) socially acceptable (iii)
economically productive and (iv) economically viable
and (v) reduce the risk.
Sustainability refers to the qualitative and quantita
tive continuity in the use of a resource. It implies a state
of equilibrium between human activities as influenced
by social behavior, acquired knowledge and applied
technology, on one hand and the food production on the
other (Farshad and Zinck, 1993). Sustainability attempts
not only to address global issues, such as resource
degradation, deforestation and ozone layer depletion, but
also local issues, such as maintenance of eco- and socio
ecosystems or a combination of these. Sustainability
could be defined in elementary terms by (Gallopin,
V'(Ot+ 1)( V(Ot)
where V is a value function of the outputs of the
system. There are several perspectives of sustainability,
namely economic, ecological, social and an optimum
mix of ecological and economic perspective. From