Generation of Cadastral Geospatial Database of Forest Lands

Forests are very unique amongst the variety of natural resources , which are being rediscovered as global resource of local significance. Managing / conserving vast tracks of natural resources such as forest is an important responsibility. These tracts are vulnerable to degradation /deterioration and encroachment without proper stewardship. Maps indicating ownership / jurisdiction boundaries are therefore of paramount importance for enforcing forest conservation and protection measures. Map is important and necessary not only for correct identification and establishing boundary, but also for proper planning and conservation management of any land based resources. Boundary lines define the legal limits of ownership of any parcel of land. The fundamentals of land ownership and land boundaries relating to possession and control of land are well documented and notified in historical records.

Honorable Supreme Court in order dated 6.7.2011 (in IA Nos. 1868, 2091, 2225-2227, 2380, 2937 in WRIT PETITION ( C ) No. 202 of 1995 - LAFARGE matter) has mandated the following:

“creation and regular updating of GIS based decision support database , tentatively containing inter-alia the district -wise details of the location and boundary of i) each plot of land that may be defined forest for the purpose of the FCA 1980, ii) the core buffer and eco sensitive zone of the protected areas constituted as per the provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972; iii) the important migratory corridors for wildlife and iv) the forest land diverted for non-forest purpose in the forest purpose in the past in the district. The SOI toposheets in digital format, the forest cover maps prepared by FSI in preparation of successive SFRs and the conditions stipulated in the approvals accorded under the FCA for each case of diversion of forest land in decision support database”.

Therefore all the State Forest Departments are now mandated to create a robust and reliable geo-spatial database of all parcels of land (such as Notified forest, Diverted forest Land's Compensatory forestation land's and area under JFPM) that may be defined as forest for the purpose of the FCA 1980.

In this direction an attempt is being made by Karnataka Forest Department in collaboration with Indian Space Research organization (ISRO), to make best use of available resources with the Department as well as ISRO and enable the Department to complete the task within a reasonable time frame and also in a cost effective manner


The first step is the generation of an ortho-database which involves the creation of a high resolution Digital Elevation Model (DEM) with 10m posting, ortho-rectification and generation of LISS-IV-CartoSat merged imagery.

Photogrammetric block files will be created using standard methods and augmented with additional Ground control points (GCPs) collected by KFD. A seamless DEM with 10m posting will be created using IRS CartoSat satellite data and used in the ortho-rectification of CartoSat and LISS-IV data.

The second step is the creation and geo-referencing of cadastral maps, forest and administrative boundaries. Hard copy cadastral base will be prepared by combining existing/ available maps of forest boundaries and the gazette notification C-statement. The hard copy maps with combined information will be scanned and geo-referenced using the ortho-database and field surveys. The geo-referenced maps will be vectorized and a seamless cadastral mosaic created.

A GCP database will be created from GPS survey designed to collect coordinates for features that are identifiable on ground, cadastral maps and ortho-database. Two sets of GCPs will be considered for field data collection a) 15 – 16 GCPs for “on-the-fly” geo-referencing and b) 18-20 GCPs for each CartoSat scene.

Finally the geo-referenced cadastral maps will be overlaid on the ortho-database for edge mapping and error checking. Attribute information on forest cover at the parcel level will be added using the ortho-database

All spatial datasets i.e., ortho rectified image database, geo-referenced cadastral maps and updated cadastral maps will be organized as a geo-database. The spatial layers are published on the KFD-Bhuvan portal for online access.

Pilot study carried out in four forest divisions jointly by ISRO and KFD.

Generation of Cadastral Geospatial Database of Forest Lands