SPC Geoscience Division

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Newsflash

Pacific Island countries and territories are challenged by the necessity to update their maps to reflect the current day realities. “Countries are utilising several mapping systems, or projections, in parallel,” explained Dr Wolf Forstreuter, SOPAC’s Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Specialist. SOPAC is the Applied Geoscience and Technology Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC).

“For example, road networks river systems, coastlines, contour lines and village locations are available on different maps. Often each has different accuracy and a different projection. They do not overlay or fit one on top of the other,” continued Dr Forstreuter.

Dr Forstreuter said that discrepancies are the result of several factors: the mapping carried out by the first surveyors at the end of the 19th century; tectonic shift, which contributes to islands shifting position; legal challenges associated with using old maps, and the need for Lands Departments to move to the use of remote sensing data and new software.