Environmental impact assessment of Refugee camps

Project idea and background

With humanitarian relief operations becoming increasingly complex and with the always-present demand for effective co-ordination, UNHCR is using geographic information systems (GIS) as a support tool for its operations world-wide. By having GIS and desktop mapping tools available, UNHCR has access to much-needed background information to locate refugee camps in appropriate sites, managing camps and monitor the environmental impacts. In this context, the use of high-resolution satellite imagery can be an effective tool.
The project will use available high-resolution satellite images to develop general methods and applications for environmental assessment of refugee camp surroundings. The purpose of an environmental assessment is to monitor the camp’s impact on the surrounding environment, as natural resources such as forest and water highly are affected. 


A method for environmental impact assessment is change detection using high resolution satellite images.
Two different methods for change detection are proposed.
The first method is thresholding of a difference image generated from single bands in two images from two points of time.
The second method is to extract changes in an object classification environment, where images from two or more points of time are segmented simultaneously into homogeneous image objects.
The different environmental assessments must be quantified in order to get useable values for further use of the results. This will be carried out in close interaction with the Environmental Section of UNHCR. Such quantification of different values will increase the benefits of using remote sensing. An example is forests, where the users are interested in computing the area of increased/decreased forests in the influenced area. A literature study to investigate previous work in the area for this application will be conducted within the project.

Project goals

The overall project goal is to develop methods to extract detailed geographic information from satellite data in order to assist UNHCR field staff to improve decision making related to environmental impact. 
METRIA Miljöanalys: Torbjörn Rost +46 8 5799 7283 mailto:torbjorn.rost@lm.se


Senast uppdaterad: 25 maj 2009