Remote sensing and GIS for wetland inventory, mapping and change analysis

A multiple purpose wetland inventory is being developed and promoted through partnerships and specific analyses at different scales in response to past uncertainties and gaps in inventory coverage. A partnership approach is being promoted through the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands to enable a global inventory database to be compiled from individual projects and analyses using remote sensing and GIS. Individual projects that are currently part of this global effort are described. They include an analysis of the Ramsar sites’ database to map the distribution of Ramsar sites across global ecoregions and to identify regions and wetland types that are under-represented in the database. Given the extent of wetland degradation globally, largely due to agricultural activities, specific attention is directed towards the usefulness of Earth Observation in providing information that can be used to more effectively manage wetlands. As an example, a further project using satellite data and GIS to quantify the condition of wetlands along the western coastline of Sri Lanka is described and trends in land use due to changes in agriculture, sedimentation and settlement patterns are outlined. At a regional scale, a project to map and assess, using remote sensing, individual wetlands used for agriculture in eight countries in southern Africa is also described. Land cover and the extent of inundation at each site is being determined from a multi-temporal data set of images as a base for further assessment of land use change. Integrated fully within these analyses is the development of local capacity to plan and undertake such analyses and in particular to relate the outcomes to wetland management and to compile data on the distribution, extent and condition of wetlands globally.


Rebelo, L.M., Finlayson, C.M., Nagabhatla, N. (2009)
Journal of Environmental Management 90(7): 2144-2153