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Bangladesh establishes a GIS-based agricultural and Land Resources Information System
From 1980–1987 a national Agro-Ecological Zone (AEZ) database was successfully developed in Bangladesh. The database contains information on the country's land resources including physiography, soils, climate, hydrology, cropping systems, and crop suitability. The database is housed in the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC) computer center at Dhaka, Bangladesh, and has been used to generate readily accessible information on the physical land resources of the country for use by researchers, extension workers, and decision makers in land and agricultural resources management as well as agricultural development planning.
The AEZ database constitutes the foundation for a new effort to develop a comprehensive multiscale GIS-based Land Resources Information System (LRIS). This updated system is designed to better deal with the intricacies of land resource planning under the complex environmental conditions that prevail in large parts of Bangladesh. The LRIS includes additional databases and procedures, in particular data on socioeconomic and demographic factors influencing agricultural production. The system is being implemented by BARC with financial support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and technical support from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
The technology being used to establish the LRIS includes ArcView GIS; the ArcView Spatial Analyst and Dialog Designer extensions; and Avenue, ArcView GIS software's programming language; as well as multicriteria analysis tools.
Conceptual System Design
At the start of the new development efforts in 1997, an overall system design was established to allow for a dynamic analysis and modeling capability. In the past, natural resources modeling systems were based on static GIS overlays. Due to the limited capacity of computers at the time, the overlay of individual maps, such as soil, climatic, and flood zone maps, was cumbersome, and much time was needed to refine the resulting layer. With the advent of more powerful desktop computer systems and more powerful software tools, such as ArcView GIS and ArcView Spatial Analyst, it has become possible to develop more flexible and dynamic modeling tools.
The approach taken in Bangladesh is to create a dynamic multilayered GIS database in which the component layers are modeled as variables that change over time. Due to the inherent variability of climatic and hydrologic conditions in Bangladesh, an open-ended system that allows for the modeling of a wide range of dynamic scenarios, from the historical record as well as predicted future scenarios, will be of greater use and will yield higher quality results.
The Land Resources Inventory Application
The land resources inventory (LRI) application allows for the classification and mapping of soil characteristics from the LRI database. The LRI contains several attributes describing physical soil characteristics. Since LRI attribute data has a many-to-one relationship to soil mapping units, the data must first be summarized by the mapping unit and the resulting mix of LRI characteristics classified for mapping purposes.
The LRI summary application was developed using the ArcView Dialog Designer extension. It allows the user to specify the study area, the data to be classified, and the number of classes to create. The user is then able to edit the resulting mix of classes based on the percentage area covered by each class. Classes can be merged and renamed to provide for more effective map output.