Technology and Engineering
  • ISSN: 2333-2581
  • Modern Environmental Science and Engineering

Community-based GIS Approach to Natural Resource Mapping and Socioeconomic Considerations In Impact Assessment: Case Study of Bayelsa Greenfield Airport Development in Niger Delta, Nigeria

Meshach Owho Ojile, Bodude D., and Okhade R.
Department of Geography & Environmental Management, Niger Delta University, Nigeria

Abstract: A geographical information system (GIS) is a computer-based tool for mapping and analyzing spatially referenced data. GIS can facilitate the understanding of spatial aspects of social and economic development by relating socio-economic variables to natural resources and the physical world; providing a tool for targeting interventions and monitoring impacts at various scales and over wide areas. GIS also potentially puts planning and research technology into the public domain to enrich — and enhance access to — information, to promote discussion and improve understanding of conflicting viewpoints. Above all, GIS has an important role to play in natural resources research to support rural livelihoods. The Bayelsa State Government in Nigeria proposed a Greenfield Airport in proximity to the State capital, Yenagoa. The need to strike a balance between socioeconomic and environmental considerations as well as comply with national and international regulatory requirements was a driver for comprehensive ESHIA studies. A community/stakeholder integrated participatory GIS study was undertaken as part of the SIA, which involved a detailed resource inventory, mapping and sensitivity of the environment to project activities. Significant impacts including land acquisition, land-take and on agriculture-based livelihood systems, particularly fisheries which rely on lakes, ponds, streams and seasonally flooded swamps in the Project area were identified. Possible economic displacement and resettlement issues were also revealed. The participatory GIS-based approach and the visualization capability of the tool provided a platform for a better understanding of project’s impacts. To avoid significant adverse socioeconomic impacts and resource losses, a change in project location was canvassed.

Key words: Participatory-GIS, Greenfield Airport, socioeconomic considerations, ESHIA, Livelihood systems, Resource inventory/mapping/sensitivity, economic displacement/resettlement

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