Value of satellites recognised for conserving wetlands
Wetlands contribute to our lives in remarkable ways by
providing food and water, controlling floods, protecting against storms and
supporting biodiversity, yet they are experiencing loss and degradation on a
Wetlands are areas that are covered with water for long enough periods to
support plants that thrive in wet soils, so they are not all wet year-round. The
areas include marshes, swamps, bogs and wet meadows. Countering their loss
requires baseline information on wetland resources and effective monitoring
programmes, but because they are often made up of complex and impenetrable
terrain monitoring them is very difficult.
In this context ESA carried out the
from 2003 to 2008 in order to demonstrate how employing satellite data can
support the inventorying, monitoring and assessing of wetland ecosystems. The
project was carried out in collaboration with the
international treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands.
ESA recently presented the results and findings of
GlobWetland with a side event at the main policy-making forum of the Ramsar
Convention on Wetlands, the Tenth Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting
Parties (COP 10). The COP 10, held in Changwon, Republic of Korea, from 28
October to 4 November 2008, addressed the importance of further developing and
intensifying internationally coordinated actions for the conservation of
wetlands. More than two thousand wetland specialists from around the world
attended the Conference entitled 'Healthy Wetlands, Healthy People'.
During the COP 10, Ramsar adopted 33 resolutions, which
includes the Strategic Plan that specifies measures to implement the
international treaty for wetlands conservation from 2009 to 2014, and the 'Changwon
Declaration on human well-being and wetlands'. At its side event, ESA announced
it will initiate a follow-on GlobWetland project, planned for 2009, and
consulted with attendees about how the project could help fulfil the newly
adopted Ramsar strategies. The implementation of these will require
international, national, and local bodies involved in the implementation of the
Convention to rely on suitable geo-information to better understand wetland
areas, complete national inventories, perform monitoring activities, carry out
assessments and put in practice suitable management plans based on up-to-date,
Participants of the side event acknowledged the efforts and
resources assigned by ESA in promoting and demonstrating the benefits of Earth
Observation (EO) technology for the Ramsar Convention.
With the follow-on
of the GlobWetland project, funded by the Agency’s Data User Element, ESA will
strengthen its collaboration with the Ramsar Secretariat and wetland managers to
further increase the operational use of EO technologies in support of the
Convention and contribute to the set up of a Global Wetland Observing System (GWOS),
one of the main objectives of the Ramsar Strategic Plan.
The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands was established in 1971 as an
inter-governmental treaty aimed at establishing a framework for the stewardship
and preservation of wetlands. Today more than 1822 wetlands have been designated
as Wetlands of International Importance, a total area of 168 million hectares.
The Convention's 158 national signatories are obliged to report on the state of
the wetlands for which they are responsible.
GlobWetland Project Page
Ramsar COP10 Website
GlobWetland Project Portal
Proceedings of the GlobWetland Symposium, ESA ESRIN, October 2006