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The Use of GIS for Land Use Planning in Mexico -
Building a New System

Araceli Vargas-Mena and Magdalena García-Rendón

Instituto Nacional de Ecologia, Mexico

Powerpoint Presentation

The Ministry of the Environment of Mexico (Secretaria del Medio Ambiente, Recursos Naturales y Pesca) has in its mandate the Land Use Planning (Ordenamiento Ecológico del Territorio, OET) at the National, Regional and Local level. This is one of the most important government instruments to built an environmental policy which helps in the achievement of sustainable development in the country. The OET attempts to regulate the spatial location of human activities according to the natural characteristics of a region, as well as the social needs and the productive activities. All these aspects allow to define optimal land use patterns that may help stop degradation and give the bases to recover the natural capital needed for a social and economic development.

The amount and kind of information needed to achieve this goals is huge and diverse considering the different disciplines, themes, scales and sources that have to be incorporated. This information is generated by different institutions, both governmental and non governmental, and its integration in a GIS requires the participation and commitment of all parties. In Mexico, the use of digital geographic information is recent and its availability is still limited. The existing information is scattered among the producing agencies, universities and in the private sector, and locating, finding out the format and assessing the reliability of every piece are time consuming tasks.

Considering all these aspects, two years ago we started to built a GIS to integrate all the information needed for the OET at different scales and to generate the thematic cartography resulting from it. The conceptual structure of this system was created considering the different kind of users (internal and external) and the applications needed for the analysis.

It is imperative to make this information available to the general public. For this purpose an special module is been considered in the design of the system, which will be accessible through Internet. Not only technical problems have to be solved in order to have a functional system, but organisational changes are required in order to create consciousness in the decision makers and politicians about the advantages of having updated and reliable information structured in a system.  This presentation examines the problematic faced by the government agencies to structure, build and maintain a geographic system, in a country in transition to the geomatic era. 

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