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Thursday, 15 July 2010

African observatories will gather biodiversity data

Scientists are pooling remote-sensing satellite data and geographical information services for two pan-African digital observatories that will provide accurate and readily accessible information on biodiversity and forest cover for policymakers. European satellites will help track deforestation, desertification and land degradationUnder a grant awarded in 2009, the European Commission's (EC) Joint Research Centre (JRC) is supporting the development of the observatories, details of which were discussed at the fourth EuroScience Open Forum (ESOF 2010) this week. One is the Observatory for the Forests of Central Africa (OFAC), which aims to serve as a single reference centre for scientific and technical information to help develop policies and programmes on the sustainable management of biodiversity, forest cover and food security in Central Africa's forests, which support around 40 million people. It will help bridge the knowledge gap by providing easily accessible information for policymakers, Paolo Roggeri, staff member from the JRC told the forum. European satellites will provide data on vegetation cover and drought to help track deforestation, desertification and land degradation - including illegal logging in the region. The portal will be divided into themes such as soil, forests, drylands, agriculture, biodiversity, and disasters, and each theme will contain reference maps, specific analysis of development issues and related scientific topics.
The observatory will also train local foresters in collecting baseline data.
The other initiative supported by the grant is the Digital Observatory for Protected Areas (DOPA), an online information system aimed at helping policymakers assess the state of protected areas and prioritise interventions in natural parks supported by the European Union. The digital observatory is designed as a set of web services that help assess, monitor and forecast the vulnerability of large ecological systems, and will cover the entirety of Sub-Saharan Africa.

Source: africagoodnews.com