Saturday, April 9, 2011

Advanced Module 6- Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing

The sixth and final Advanced Module in the Stirling MSc program was titled Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing and was taught by Lindsay Ross.  This course covered the basics of GIS modeling, and had small groups working on analysis projects utilizing these techniques.

The first two days consisted of lectures, with topics including GIS and remote sensing software, databases, and applications, as well as a history of the development of these techniques.  On the third day, we received tutorials of the software we would be using to complete our assessments: my group of three students was assigned a study of the suitability of sites for pond construction in the African nation of Ghana.  We adopted the perspective of National Environmental Regulators and, utilizing GIS, we analyzed the entire country for pond aquaculture suitability according to a variety of factors, including soil composition, livestock production, population density, water availability, etc.

By mapping these factors and deciding their relative importance to aquaculture, different maps could be overlaid on top of one another to give a comprehensive overview of the suitability of a given region.  We used recommendations from the FAO to determine the suitability of detailed factors such as soil type and relative distance from water bodies.

In the end, we produced a map that accurately displayed the suitability of sites for pond construction in Ghana.  These findings were then used to identify the best regions for pond aquaculture, as well as calculate potential production figures from these regions.  This study would be useful for potential developers and other aquaculture stakeholders, and it taught us the value of such a project as an integral part of the planning and design stage of an aquaculture operation.   
Soil variation in Ghana- each colour represents a different soil type

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