Maharashtra: Monitoring forests in near real time

Maharashtra Forest fire

Monitoring a forest is difficult because of the complex web of flora and fauna, extending over 61,979 sq km, constituting nearly 20.13 per cent of the geographical area. Managing ecological balance, biodiversity conservation, climate change offset role alongside with maintaining natural resources system encompassing forest and wildlife forms an arduous task. Dynamics of the ecosystem clubbed with geographically disadvantageous locations though fulfill aesthetic purpose makes management difficult.

In order to overcome these challenges, the Government of Maharashtra has strategised an e-governance plan. The Maharashtra Forest Department will use real-time satellite images and monitor entire forested areas from its command centre—Van Bhavan—in Nagpur. The command centre is equipped with a video wall of nine LED monitors and the same will be utilised for video-conferencing to take swift actions.

How it works
Suppose, if there is a fire in any of the forest area, the system will detect the exact location of fire and the same will be shown on the video wall. This will help forest officials deploy forest guards at necessary locations and help put the fire out much faster.

Currently, the Department has completed Phase I, wherein LAN & WAN connectivity, procurement of real-time data collection devices like PDA/smartphone, creation of a hardware and software infrastructure, and sharpening the ICT skills of manpower has been secured.

The Maharashtra Forest Department has signed an memorandum of understanding with the Institute of Wood Science and Technology (IWST), the Indian Plywood Industries Research and Training Institute (IPIRTI), the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) the and Indian Council of Forestry Research and Training.

With the use of Google Maps, the Department will also keep a closer tab on two crore sapling plantation by integrating management information system (MIS) with GIS through satellite technology with the help of Maharashtra Remote Sensing Applications Centre, Nagpur and then submit it to the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) for uploading. Currently, more than 1,800 locations are monitored where the plantations have survived.

Command Centre

  • Nine LED monitors to provide real-time footage of forests, wildlife sanctuaries and national parks across the state
  • Polycom system to communicate with premier institutes of forest and wildlife conservation in India
  • Two channels to communicate information – one with on-field forest officers and the other with top officials taking decision from different parts of the State
  • Information on illegal wildlife trade, poaching from across the state and surrounding forest areas from other states
  • Tracking and controlling issues such as forest fires, illicit felling of trees and real-time monitoring of the two crore tree plantation drive in Maharashtra across 1,800 plantation sites