Wetlands mapping project to be continued

Scientists mapping the loss and health of the world's wetlands using satellites will launch a second stage of their project beginning next year.

The European Space Agency (ESA) carried out its GlobWetland project from 2003 to 2008 to demonstrate how satellite data can support the monitoring of wetland ecosystems, which are often made up of complex and impenetrable terrain.

The ESA announced a second stage beginning next year at the signatories of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands held their tenth meeting in the Republic of Korea.

The follow-on GlobWetland project aims to help fulfil the resolutions that were adopted at the meeting, including a new strategic plan for 2009 to 2014.

ESA chiefs said its data will allow international, national and local bodies implementing the conventions new resolutions to better understand wetland areas, complete national inventories of their wetlands, monitor them, and provide them with up-to-date, reliable information.

Speaking at the event, Demetra Spala of the Hellenic Ministry of Environment, Planning and Public Works, said that Greece will develop a monitoring protocol using the technology demonstrated in the GlobWetland project.

“We will recommend to the Ramsar Secretariat and Contracting Parties to adopt these methodologies,” she said.

“The benefits are multiple. They would improve our knowledge for more efficient decision making and facilitate the reporting to the Convention.”

Dr Heather MacKay, chair of the Ramsar’s Scientific and Review Panel (STRP), said: “Earth Observation technology (EO) could be a cost-effective and very productive tool for the Convention.

“The technology is ready and mature enough for uptake on a certain number of areas.

“The STRP sees huge value for all Parties involved in the implementation of the Convention at all scales from global to regional, national and local scales.”

The original GlobWetland project was carried out in collaboration with the Ramsar Convention, the international treaty to conserve wetlands. It is hoped that the second state of the project will strengthen the collaboration.

Kate Martin

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