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Satellite data instrumental in combating desertification
Date:10/7/2009

With land degradation in dryland regions continuing to worsen, the UN Convention to Combat Desertification has agreed on scientist-recommended indicators for monitoring and assessing desertification that signatory countries must report on.

The landmark agreement was reached after two weeks of negotiations involving hundreds of scientists and government ministers attending the Ninth Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 9) of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from 21 September to 2 October.

Desertification, land degradation and drought deprive people of food and water and force millions to leave their homes. Desertification refers to the creation of new deserts through the degradation of drylands, which cover 40% of the world's land surface. Land degradation, caused by over-cultivation, over-grazing, deforestation and inefficient irrigation, affects roughly 20% of Earth's drylands.

Since dryland desertification can be remedied or even reversed by using appropriate management techniques, scientists attending the first scientific session of the COP, held from 22 to 24 September, stressed the importance of developing science-based methods for monitoring the areas most at risk to support land and water management decisions. Satellite technologies were recognised as playing an important role in achieving this objective.

ESA has been working closely with the UNCCD secretariat for nearly 10 years, developing and demonstrating innovative information services based on satellite Earth observation (EO) technologies that allow land degradation processes to be monitored over time.

Monitoring desertification, land degradation and droughts requires the continuous evaluation of a complex set of parameters and indicators, some of which can be retrieved with EO technologies and state-of-the-art geo-spatial applications. For instance, the status of land cover one of the 11 indi
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Contact: Mariangela D'Acunto
mariangela.dacunto@esa.int
39-069-418-0856
European Space Agency
Source:Eurekalert

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