This paper demonstrates the utility of geographic information systems (GIS) and image processing as information tools in forest management. The application of GIS to address management issues of old-growth forest in the Pacific Northwest is used to assess the utility of GIS. Improvements in technology are considered, including improved resolution of the data from earth resources satellites. Computer hardware is becoming more cost-effective, and significant increases in operating speeds make interactive data processing much more responsive to management needs. Software is becoming more sophisticated and much more integrated so that vector and roster data sets are more easily used together. All of these improvements have made it possible to meet map accuracy standards and to identify sources and types of error occurring in thematic classification. This leads to three main types of use: (1) the combination of image data and GIS information to produce image maps, (2) the use of images from aircraft or satellites to update GIS information, and (3) the use of GIS data layers as ancillary information in image classification to increase accuracy and reliability. A variety of specific applications-including mapping and recording landscape characteristics using digital elevation models, updating maps, and identifying changes-is discussed. The present demand for these applications is seen as a small fraction of the future requirement for GIS information about land use and land management. Data capture and the generation of global data sets and management techniques are identified as issues of growing importance. These activities generate a growing need for training and support of GIS if the power of the technology is to be applied effectively to natural resources issues.
"Integrating satellite imagery and GIS into natural resource management,"
Natural Resources and Environmental Issues: Vol. 2
, Article 9.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/nrei/vol2/iss1/9