Remote sensing (RS) for Sustainable Development: Linking pixel-peoples-policy

Remote sensing (RS) is able to provide the basic data to conduct an inventory of land, as well as the spatial-temporal information necessary to monitor sustainable land management practices. The development of this technology since the last ten years is increasing, both in the development of the sensor, as well as the expansion of the field of application.
This technology is able to answer at least three basic questions: 1. How is the condition of the surface of the Republic of Indonesia?; 2. Is the exploitation of Indonesia’s land is now run according to the principles of sustainable development?; 3. How is the role of technology in making policy is not only environmentally friendly but also create jobs that will improve social welfare, increase public awareness of the surrounding environment and finally create self-sufficiency of the nation?
Remote sensing (RS) can answer the first question by presenting detailed information on land cover complete with its physical condition (slope, elevation information, etc.). These data extracted from the data pixel reflectance of each object (wavelengths of light reflected from each object to the form of vegetation, water, varieties of natural objects and a varieties of other man-made objects) on the surface of the earth. While the second and third questions will be answered by combining the results of interpretation of the RS with the methodology of social science and economics (interviews, participatory workshops, multi-stakeholder statistics, spatial econometric and spatial modeling, etc)
For a country that has a vast archipelago like Indonesia, remote sensing technology should get significant attention to monitor, manage, and evaluate, how Indonesia’s natural resources are used for the welfare of the people. But in fact, until the end of 2012, from various applications that I’ve done so far, mostly in the exploitation of resources in Indonesia, it is only for the interests of some groups. Improvement in the economy and the welfare of local communities has long been neglected.

In the context of sustainable development, there are three important points: 1. Information on natural resources (past-present-future). That information can be used for basic planning and decision making, as well as to monitor whether it is sustainable or not through the detection of trend changes in land use; 2.Clear policies about how natural resources are managed (eg, spatial planning, forestry concessions, Moratorium, etc. ), and 3. Participation of all people (including local communities) with an interest or who have a “stake” in the environment.
The first important point can be answered using RS and GIS (geographic information system) as a method of approach. While the second and third important point is the contribution of the social sciences that goes hand in hand with earth science in an effort to solve the environmental problems in Indonesia.

The development of technology and science alone, without the support of a clear and unequivocal policy and the involvement of various parties will certainly remain paralyzed and helpless and hard to provide solutions to various environmental problems in Indonesia. But that does not mean we can not do anything about it. Various experts and entrepreneurship contribution can be made by providing basic knowledge to the public how to map the surrounding environmental resources, and realize that their involvement is important in efforts surrounding communities prosper.
Availability of free software and satellite imagery are getting cheaper and more readily available will certainly alleviate the experts in disseminating spatial information based earth towards sustainable development. Because the earth is not ours, but rather surrogate children and grandchildren that we must maintain. Land use should not only be optimized with respect to the environment and socio-economic community but also utilize-more-less. Take advantage of economical and optimal as possible, just like we use water. As the number of people continues to increase, while the area of ​​the earth remains unchanged.
It is required immediately a clear framework for spatial technology diffusion process is simple yet, easy to understand, and applicable to the whole societies. Increased ability to geo-literacy communities need to be supported by the government, private sector, and college.


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