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Maps: COLEF/ORSTOM Joint Digital Mapping Project

COLEF/ORSTOM Joint Digital Mapping Project

El Colegio de la Frontera Norte, Tijuana, Baja California (COLEF)

French Institute of Research for Development in Cooperation (ORSTOM) : The French Institute of Scientific Research for Development in Cooperation. ORSTOM is a French owned public service organization under the joint authority of the Ministry of Research and the Ministries of Cooperation and Development. With a budget of nearly one billion francs, ORSTOM has a staff of 2,500.

Environment: Observing, Understanding, Anticipating Environmental issues have always been a central part of ORSTOM's research work. Here are some of the research themes developed by ORSTOM that are of major international concern or match demand from partners in the developing countries:

  • - Climate
  • - Biological diversity
  • - Ecosystem management
  • - Health and environment
  • - Urban environment
  • - Information systems

Partnership: An essential element Without the partnership principle, no meaningful scientific activity can exist at the scientific level. In respect to this partnership principle, ORSTOM develops:

  • - permanent dialogue
  • - shared research
  • - research-based training in research
  • - support for scientific communities in the southern hemisphere

Development: The end purpose of research All the institute's programs are geared towards the ultimate goal of development.

  • - managing societies in crisis
  • - better nourishment and better health care
  • - land planning and development
  • - rational exploitation of natural resources
  • - combating industrial pollution and natural hazards
  • - Dissemination output

SIGEF* ENVIRONMENT (* Statistic and Geographic Information System of the Northern Border of Mexico)

COLEF (Colegio de la Frontera Norte) and ORSTOM propose to evaluate the uses and dynamics of renewable resources in relation to economic and demographic activities. The evaluations will allow the team to carry out a diagnosis of certain aspects of the management of the Mexican border environment between the mouth of the Colorado River and the Pacific Coast and to implement a comparative analysis with the system in place north of the border. [SAVANE] (the GIS package developed and provided by ORSTOM) and PLANETE ( Remore Sensing software from ORSTOM to process SPOT and other satellite images) are extensively used in this joint research program.

Characteristics of the research program

The research program on the environment presents a technical and methodological component as well as a scientific research problem:

  • 1 - implementation of an updated database with a regional characteristic on the border area of the Baja California Peninsula.
  • 2 - Implementation of a study on the urban environment to evaluate potential major hazards affecting the city of Tijuana.
  • 3 - Implementation of a study on the rural environment in the lower valley of the Colorado River.

Three databases; three different scales of research; three approaches:

A regional study: [The California database] The database covers the north part of the Mexican Californian peninsula. The database is conceived for multi-users and multi-uses. The most exhaustive information and the necessary tool for research will be available to potential users (statisticians, demographers, geographers, decision makers, etc...)

A study on the urban environment: The ["Tijuana-San Diego"] database The objective is to measure the impact of the urban growth in the city of Tijuana on the management of its surrounding natural resources.

A study on the rural environment: The [Mexicali database] This second research area covers the Imperial Valley in the United States and the Mexicali Valley in Mexico. Among the research themes:

  • 1 - Water management for agricultural purposes: Needs, availability, rhythms, control
  • 2 - Agricultural cycles: Types of cultures, associations
  • 3 - The consequences of agricultural activity on the environment and the secondary effects of irrigation, salinization


The mexican census data is available for different spatial units: By States (32), planning regions (190), municipios (2400). A small number of variables are given by localidades (+90000) with precise geographical locations. Different processing ways be issued by geographical units or a chosen grid.


- Production in the same research context, of an exhaustive localized information and of the ways to treat it (GIS, Relational Database)

- Creation of studies and diagnosis, publications of atlases on bi-national border themes:

  • 1 - International migrations (Mexican and American census data, migratory flows)
  • 2 - Environment and physical hazards in the city of Tijuana
  • 3 - Management of the environment of the Tijuana river watershed
  • 4 - Diagnosis of the land use and of the agricultural practices in the Mexicali Valley


  • 1 - COLEF (Colegio de la Frontera Norte), Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico
  • 2 - ORSTOM: Institut Français de Recherche Scientifique pour le Développement en Coopération, France
  • 3 - Population Research Center, University of Texas at Austin, United-States
  • 4 - Ajuntamiento de Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico
  • 5 - San Diego State University, Department of Geography, California, United-States


  • ALAIN WINCKELL, Tijuana-San Diego database (
  • DANIEL DELAUNAY, Demographics (
  • MICHEL LEPAGE, programmer, developer of SAVANE System (
  • OLIVIER COEUR DE ROY, Mexicali database, (