Human security is under threat from desertification, land degradation and drought. Combating this threat requires an integrated international response, which is why the theme for this year's World Day to Combat Desertification is 'Conserving land and water = Securing our common future'.
Desertification, land degradation and drought (DLDD) deprive people of food, water and their homes and can undermine security and even trigger conflicts. According to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), these phenomena have already forced between 17 and 24 million to leave their homes and that number is expected to rise to 200 million by 2050.
In its effort to combat DLDD, the UNCCD is calling for the global creation of short-, medium- and long-term strategies to deal with the scarcity of fertile soil by strengthening ecosystem management through the use of technology, knowledge and engineering concepts.
The term 'desertification' does not refer to the spread of existing deserts, but to the creation of new ones through the degradation of drylands, which cover 40% of the world's land surface. Since dryland desertification can be remedied by using appropriate land management techniques, it is essential to monitor the areas most at risk.
ESA has been working closely with the UNCCD secretariat for more than eight years, developing and demonstrating information services based on satellite Earth observation (EO) technologies to allow a better assessment and monitoring of desertification and land degradation.
EO satellites are able to highlight relevant changes in land use and can provide authorities with an overall picture of key pressures on land, such as burned land due to forest fires, erosion processes and their trends over time.
In 2004, ESA launched a large pilot project called DesertWatch to develop a set of satellite-based information services to monitor and assess the status of land degradation with t
|Contact: Mariangela D'Acunto|
European Space Agency