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  Tuyen Quang Forest Protection Department
 

Introduction and Situation
Tuyen Quang Forest Protection Department (FPD) is one of the largest administrative agencies in the province. Their main responsibility is to manage and protect more than 58,800ha forest in the province, ensuring that the forest is used according to national guidelines. They have two main duties:

1. Technical Duty:
   Follow status of forest resources

   Prevent forest fire

   Preserve and monitor biological diversity

2. Legal Duty
Identify and deal with individuals and community groups who violate regulations of forest protection and development

In the past, the FPD often experienced problems in managing, sharing and disseminating forest maps. For a very long time all data was stored on papers maps that were manually created. This often led to unnecessary duplication and it was often difficult and costly to update the changes of forest status on maps. Most importantly, calculation of area units from paper maps was not exact, reducing the effectiveness of their planning and management practices. For example, a wrong decision may be made in punishing anyone who deforests, if location and area are not accounted for exactly.

Solution
The authorities of the department had a meeting to discuss the issues that were affecting them. They came to the conclusion that they required a solution that could provide staff members with up-to-date and relevant information whenever and wherever they needed it. Another key factor was that the solution had to be “easy-to-use” and help staff save time and money. They chose MapInfo to solve all their above-mentioned problems.

“MapInfo is our number-one choice because it can meet the various requirements of all our users”. said Mr. Tran Thanh Lich – one of the departmental officers. “I was trained in the use of GIS in Germany and have many years experience working with GIS software. I personally believe that MapInfo is the most suitable software for managing forest status and for monitoring biological diversity,” he added. “Since we have chosen MapInfo, our work performance has improved considerably. We have used MapInfo Pro since version 6.0 and we have now upgraded to MapInfo version 7.8 for greater convenience.”

Benefits
Using MapInfo, the department has successfully linked map-based data with information from other spreadsheets and databases (made in Microsoft Excel and Visual FoxPro). This has enabled the Tuyen Quang FPD to:

   Keep track of population distribution and dispersion and its influence on forest resources. Therefore, we can maximize positive effects and minimize negative ones on forest resources.

   Monitor traffic policy and forest processes

   Monitor biological diversity at natural conservation and special use forest areas.

   Update changes of forest status in an exact and timely fashion

   Forecast forest fire and have method to prevent forest fire.

   Make map of forestry land use plan

   Forest Land Allocation Maps

   Analyze the effect of air pollution and weather for forestry environmental problems

   Combine with GPS to position forest plots on map and account their areas (see map below).

Presenting information in a rich and meaningful visual way helps users to make quicker and more clear-sighted decisions relating to forest land distribution. Fundamental land-use issues can be determined, such as

   Who is that forest area to be allocated to?

   Where is their residence in relation to this forest allocation

   How many hectares can be given to them?

“We can easily and directly modify information on a digital map in accordance with changes of any factors - such as policy or environment and specially human impact. Previously, it took us much time and money to make it on paper maps” said Mr. Lich.

Another benefit from using MapInfo is that, when combined with GPS data collection, thematic grid maps of the topography can be made. This is very useful where the landscape has been altered due to factors such as natural disasters or roads being built. Mr. Lich stated, “In order to visualize information of a forest plot, the only thing we have to do is double-click on a map object to see its area, forest status, function (production, special use or prevention) - or any other information about forest land usage. This advantage helps us to manage more efficiently and easily”. He added, “Thanks to MapInfo, we can easily create different information layers of topography, forest status, tree species, sun-shine hours, rainfall and habits of people. We can then model this data for the purpose of forecasting fires (see map to right).

The other pre-eminent feature of MapInfo is that it can create 3D maps (see image below). It is easy for farmers to understand and imagine what forest area they are given and where it is. “Initially we had to create soil models on the floor of a cultural house for the farmers to imagine more easily. They couldn’t understand if we showed them a topographic paper map and it wasted much money, time and efforts. It takes us a week to make a sand model of a village with much material and effort. With MapInfo, we only need 5 minutes to create a 3D map for everybody to see” said Mr. Lich.

 
   
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