Graduate Project

 

Geographic information system implementation for coastal management on small islands - with a case study on Saipan, commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Public Deposited

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  • From mid-June to early October of 1997, the author worked in the Coastal Resources Management Division (CRMD) on the island of Saipan, in the western tropical Pacific (Figure 1). The University of Oregon Micronesia and South Pacific Program and the government of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) sponsored the work and offered critical support. The project established a working geographic information system (GIS) in the CRMD to help the agency create a more effective coastal management program. The author and CRMD staff collected digital data on Saipan's natural resources and infrastructure systems, to create a comprehensive resource data library for use with the new GIS. A GIS workshop was held for island resource management staff in the CRMD office. The project resulted in a resource atlas for Saipan, a pilot project meant to demonstrate the utility of the new system to the CRMD and other government agencies. After working on Saipan, the author produced a report, GIS Based Saipan Watershed Resource Atlas: A Project Report, documenting the work accomplished during the three and a half month project. Appendix A contains a complete version of the report, as submitted to the CRMD by the author in December, 1997. The purpose of this report is to expand the scope of the author's work on Saipan, by considering how that work fits into the growing knowledge base and interest in tailoring coastal management strategies to the unique physical and social environments found on small islands. This report considers how a GIS can help coastal managers on small islands create more effective and sustainable management programs, consistent with the unique needs of island populations and environments. Most resource managers agree that a GIS may allow more efficient means of managing, analyzing and communicating resource information. A truly effective GIS requires its users to adapt its strengths to their own unique situations. Because small islands often have unique and dynamic characteristics, they offer an excellent opportunity to test the flexibility and long-term usefulness of the emerging GIS technology in the field of coastal management.
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