News Releases

UWI Geomatics Department celebrates first Land Surveyor PhD

For Release Upon Receipt - July 15, 2010

St. Augustine


When Mr Amarnath Chinchamee graduates later this year from The University of the West Indies (UWI), Department of Geomatics Engineering and Land Management, he will become the Department’s first land surveyor to complete the PhD in Surveying and Land Information. But his research is already changing the landscape of his field. 

His main research interest is geo-informatics, a discipline that includes the study of remote sensing, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Global Positioning Systems (GPS). Through his research, Mr Chinchamee has developed a geo-informatics-based data gathering approach for management of natural vegetation communities in Trinidad. His doctoral thesis focused on the use of geo-informatics technology in mapping and monitoring natural vegetation in Trinidad, focusing on the application of remote sensing and GIS as tools used to map and monitor land use and land cover in tropical, mountainous islands like Trinidad. 

“Overall, the study has demonstrated that geo-informatics (remote sensing and GIS) are useful tools in collecting and managing spatial information to provide managers with insight into the natural vegetation habitats in Trinidad,” said Mr Chinchamee.

Mr Chinchamee’s study divided the island into 54 watersheds, then grouped the island’s watersheds into three classes: severely fragmented, moderately fragmented, and near to natural state. A map was then produced showing their respective levels of forest fragmentation. The study showed that watersheds located to the western coast, from Port of Spain to San Fernando, all appeared to be severely fragmented, while the watersheds on the north-east and south-east coast were near to their natural state.  There were also areas just south of the Northern Range and just north of the Central Range which were near to their natural state.  The thesis concluded that the methodologies developed can be used not only to map, but to monitor and manage natural plant communities in Trinidad, a small island undergoing rapid industrialisation and economic development.  

“Like many countries pursuing rapid development, our nation is faced with urbanisation, illegal settlement of prime agricultural lands, population growth, as well as the lack of objective implementation of available regulations. This combination of factors has led to several environmental problems that may actually threaten the pace of development,” explained Mr Chinchamee.

Mr Chinchamee’s study outlines how efforts to effectively manage natural resources and development are hampered by the fact there is no recent and comprehensive data concerning land use/cover map for the island. He therefore argues that Trinidad urgently requires accurate data to provide decision makers with critical information for planning and managing the environment, as well as the development process.

It was also recommended that the fragmentation analysis be used to identify watershed or plant communities that are under serious threat. Once these watersheds have been identified, the information derived from the analysis of biophysical land units (BLU) can be used to assist decision makers on restoration policies. This BLU analysis can assist in selecting areas where the plant communities can be maintained or reforested.

Mr Chinchamee is currently a member of the Institute of Surveyors of Trinidad and Tobago (ISTT), where was a member of the management committee of the ISTT during the period 2007 to 2009. Prior to this, he was a Graduate Research Assistant at the UWI Faculty of Engineering, from 2003 to 2006, and an Assistant Lecturer at the UWI Faculty of Science & Agriculture, Department of Food Production from 2002 to 2006. He has two pending publications at international journals and has presented work at two international GIS conferences. In 1996, he obtained a National Technician Scholarship to pursue an Engineering degree from The UWI. During his stay at The UWI, he obtained faculty awards for his surveying projects three years in a row from 1999 to 2001. In 2001 Dr. Chinchamee graduated with a BSc. (honours) degree in Surveying and Land Information.

The Department of Geomatics Engineering and Land Management, which was called “Surveying and Land Information” until a name change late last year, now offers programmes in Geomatics Engineering, an emerging field of studies which includes a range of disciplines such as land surveying, geodesy, photogrammetry, remote sensing, cartography, land and geographic information systems, urban planning, cadastral systems, global navigation systems and hydrography.

“Our Department’s new name represents the expanded scope of our academic offerings. In response to the University’s Strategic Plan, all of our programmes have undergone significant curriculum review, and many of our courses have been revised to meet industry demands,” said Professor Jacob Opadeyi, Head of the Department.

For photos of Mr Amarnath Chinchamee, click:

For more information, please visit the Department website at, or contact the UWI Department of Surveying and Land Information at, or (868) 662 2002 Ext. 2108 or 2109, or (Fax) 3700.


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About Amarnath Chinchamee

Mr Chinchamee joined The University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) in November 2006 as a Research Associate and then in August 2007 he became Assistant Professor. He currently co-ordinates and leads Technical Drawing for the Pre-University Programme (PUP) across its campuses. He also chairs the research group at John S Donaldson Technical Institute. He was a Part-Time lecturer at COSTAATT from 2002 to 2006 where he taught Surveying and Drawing to the students in the Applied Science Degree in Water Resource Management. For several years after he graduated from the John S. Donaldson Technical Institute with a Diploma in General Draughtsmanship in 1995, he also worked as a graduate Land Surveyor and a Draughtsman in the industry. 


About the Department of Geomatics Engineering & Land Management

The UWI Department of Geomatics Engineering and Land Management is now offering Master of Science (MSc) degrees in either Geoinformatics or Urban and Regional Planning. Two research programmes were recently introduced: the Master of Philosophy (MPhil) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in either Geoinformatics or Urban and Regional Planning. For more information, please contact Professor Jacob Opadeyi, Head of the Department of Geomatics Engineering and Land Management at or (868) 662 2002 ext. 2108 or 3313.

Geomatics Engineering is a modern, rapidly developing field of study which integrates the acquisition, modeling, analysis and management of spatially referenced data. Geomatics engineers use their knowledge of science, engineering and measurement technology to solve complex world problems. Technologies developed within the discipline have revolutionised global navigation, resource and environmental management and urban planning. The B.Sc. Geomatics programme aims at providing a comprehensive and detailed knowledge of the theory and methods of land surveying and the management of land information that prepare and enable graduates to work effectively in response to regional, national and international needs. Graduates will be able to explain the theories and techniques of surveying and land information, critically examine land surveying and land information management problems, and develop solutions within the context of given specifications and standards. Career opportunities for the Geomatics Engineer span over both the private and public sector markets and range from the technical engineering fields to policy making and planning. For more information on the B.Sc. programme, please contact Dr. Raid Al-Tahir, Senior Lecturer, at or (868) 662 2002 Ext. 3316.

The B.Sc. programme in Land Management (Valuation) contains elements of Valuation Surveying, Estate Management, Land Administration and other areas of Land Management. Land Management refers to disciplines involved in the process of managing land as a natural resource in a sustainable way. It includes the sub-discipline of Land Administration, which involves determining, recording and disseminating information about the ownership, value and use of land. It also includes urban and regional planning, which involves the organisation and regulation of physical development in both the urban and rural landscapes locally and regionally, as well as valuation surveying, which is the process of developing a fiscal value for real property. The Department offers a specialisation of property valuation at the undergraduate level. Graduates of the land management programmes have several opportunities for employment in both the private and public sectors as they relate to physical planning, property valuation, fiscal cadastre development, as well as managerial responsibilities in local government agencies. Specific training is also delivered in Land Economics, Land Surveying, Cadastral Studies, Engineering Management, Construction techniques, Taxation methods and techniques, Geographic Information Systems, Management Information Systems, Statistics for Surveyors, as well as various relevant aspects of accounting and law. For more information on the BSc programme, please contact Dr. Michael Sutherland Programme Coordinator at or (868) 662 2002 Ext. 2564.


About UWI

Over the last six decades, The University of the West Indies (UWI) has evolved from a fledgling college in Jamaica with 33 students to a full-fledged University with over 40,000 students. Today, UWI is the largest and most longstanding higher education provider in the English-speaking Caribbean, with main campuses in Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, and Centres in Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, The Bahamas, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Christopher (St Kitts) & Nevis, St Lucia, and St Vincent & the Grenadines. UWI recently launched its Open Campus, a virtual campus with over 50 physical site locations across the region, serving over 20 countries in the English-speaking Caribbean. UWI is an international university with faculty and students from over 40 countries and collaborative links with over 60 universities around the world. Through its seven Faculties, UWI offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Pure & Applied Sciences, Science and Agriculture, and Social Sciences.