European Protected Areas can be at forefront of new Earth Observation technology

Pisa, Italy, 2 May 2017 - Innovative technologies for Earth Observation and modelling are emerging and European Protected Areas have the opportunity to be at the forefront of how they are used, a meeting of scientists and park managers is demonstrating today.
Around 60 participants have gathered for a week to see how new Earth Observation tools, such as satellite imagery, can contribute to better understanding threats faced by Protected Areas and changes to their health. Protected Area representatives  from across Europe are attending such as Sierra Nevada, Wadden Sea and the Danube Delta.

Sessions are being held on four categories of tools developed under the ECOPOTENTIAL project:
•    Application of In situ monitoring data, including soil and water samples;
•    Use and interpretation of Remote Sensing products, such as photographs and infrared images from satellites;
•    Modelling of Ecosystems, ecosystem functions and services;
•    Citizen science activities in Protected Areas

For each area, participants are learning how to use a virtual laboratory platform and how to share data. As a result, the aim is to ensure Protected Areas  can be managed from an ecosystem services perspective, using tools such as satellite images of landscapes to accurately identify threats, like deforestation, biodiversity loss and climate change, to effectively protect our ecosystems.
A community of solution-sharing is also expected to be set up in the framework of the intergovernmental Group on Earth Observations (GEO) and the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) and GEO ECO: the GEO Global Ecosystem Initiative.
“The increase in the number of remote sensing methods opens up new opportunities for assessing how ecosystems change. This is vital in response to society’s needs for their services, such as for clean water and climate regulation.” said Matthias Jurek, Programme Officer at UN Environment.
“This event, together with the launch of the Virtual Laboratory Platform, will be the turning point for putting our research at the service of a broad community of users,” said Antonello Provenzale, Coordinator of the ECOPOTENTIAL project.

“This meeting represents an important milestone for our project, as it allows us to share our views on the use of Earth Observation data for the benefit of scientific research on protected areas and for creating a Community of Practice,” added Dr Provenzale, who is Director of the Institute of Geosciences and Earth Resources at Italy’s National Research Council.

Feedback provided by representatives from Protected Areas during the workshop will be reflected in relevant work undertaken by ECOPOTENTIAL.
The four-day event, which is titled ‘Application of Earth Observation tools in Protected Areas in Europe and beyond,’ is being held at the San Rossore – Migliarino – Massaciuccoli Regional Park in Pisa, Italy. It is organized by the Italian National Research Council together with the UN Environment and other ECOPOTENTIAL project partners.

For more information, please contact:
Matthias Jurek, Programme Officer at UN Environment, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Silvia Giamberini, National Research Council of Italy, Institute of Geosciences and Earth Resources, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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