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Forest Management Information System Print Forest Management Information System

Forest Management Information System

Sarawak Forest Department installed the first computer-assisted Remote Sensing (RS) and GIS (FMIS) system in 1990 to enable faster and more accurate gathering and processing of forest related data for the entire State of Sarawak.

Receiving stations in Bangkok and National University of Singapore provide satellite imageries for this region. Processing of remote sensing data mainly involves extraction of information via visual interpretation. The results are integrated into the GIS system as data layers.

Organizational setup

The introduction of innovative systems like GIS can only be effective and efficient if they are integrated as part of the existing structures and working processes within an organization.

FMIS integrated spatially related data and information between Photogrammetry and mapping unit. The Photogrammetry unit emphasized on the visual interpretation of aerial photographs and analogue based satellite imageries.

Stages of FMIS implementation

  • 1st stage (1995 / 96): Under the Operations Branch as GIS / RS Unit
  • 2nd stage (1996): Incorporation of the Photogrametry Unit into GIS / RS Unit
  • 3rd stage (1996 / 99): Incorporation of the Mapping Unit into GIS / RS Unit
  • 4th stage (2000): Decentralization of GIS activities to the Regional Forest Offices (Miri, Bintulu, Sibu, Kuching)
  • 5th stage (2002.): Linking Electronic Data Processing (EDP) Unit and GIS / RS Unit into an Information and Decision Support system


Currently, all trained personnel are qualified and available to perform as expected according to the required job description in the FMIS setup. The main duty of the unit has been data conversion, converting analog maps and information into digital data. This process is manpower intensive and is also the period where trained personnel are most needed to ensure speedy, efficient and accurate data conversion. Data gathering is the most time consuming and tedious part of the setup of a GIS. Skilled personnel is needed to ensure a high quality of generated data.


Accurate gathering, input and processing of spatial and non-spatial data are of utmost importance. Data availability, accessibility and reliability are of a continuous concern as the quality of data is essential to ensure the quality of the output; the adage 'garbage in - garbage out' is very applicable with GIS. Experience has shown that data collection and integration take up more than 60% of all GIS activities.

Data conversion and Data availability

Another important aspect of the GIS data management is the establishment of proper procedures for data conversion and generation. Currently, some of the forestry related information is available on a statewide coverage at a scale of 1:250,000. More data is being converted at an optimum operational scale of 1:50,000 for forestry planning. This process is 'man power' intensive, converting analog maps and information into digital spatial and non-spatial attribute information at 1:50,000 accuracy levels.

The data quality is the crucial element of data conversion. A low quality data would limit the usability of the data for a wider scope. FMIS has established some guidelines for the quality control of the GIS data generated from conventional maps. The various data processing tolerances used in the data conversion process have a heavy influence on data quality.

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