Space agencies support to Ramsar/CBD for inland and coastal wetland observation and reporting
European Space Agency
Date and Time
22 October 2010 18:15 - 19:45
The overall objective of the Ramsar convention is the conservation and wise use of wetlands by national actions and international cooperation as a means to achieving sustainable development. According to the UN-CBD, inland water ecosystems are amongst the most threatened ecosystem types. Physical alteration, habitat loss and degradation, water withdrawal, overexploitation, pollution and the introduction of invasive alien species are the main threats to these ecosystems and their associated biological resources. The protection of wetlands ecosystems requires local, national and international bodies involved in the implementation of both conventions 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 and reliable information. In the recent years, the use of satellite Earth Observations (EO) within innovative geo-spatial analysis has revealed as a key tool and unique information source to support the environmental community in different application domains, including wetlands conservation and management. In this context, the European Space Agency (ESA) in collaboration with the Ramsar Secretariat has launched a number of projects in order to demonstrate the capabilities of EO technology to support inventorying, monitoring, assessment of wetland ecosystems. Projects have been carried out in close collaboration with several regional, national and local conservation authorities and wetland managers, involving numerous wetlands across all continents. This large range of users and wetland sites provided an excellent test bed to asses the potential of Space technology to be applied in different technical, economical and social conditions. Three main areas can be pointed out, where satellite EO technology may contribute to achieve the objectives of the Ramsar and Biodiversity Conventions: increasing scientific knowledge, supporting the efficient management of wetland areas and contributing to improve the performance of the Conventions. The European Space Agency has recently launched a new project, called GlobWetland II, to contribute to the setting of a Global Wetlands Observing System (G-WOS) in accordance with the Ramsar’s 2009–15 strategic plan. The GlobWetland II project will develop a G-WOS pilot information system to produce a number of wetland-related geo-information maps and indicators over 200 wetland sites and surrounding areas for different points in time. The geographical regions covered will be the coastal catchment areas of the southern and eastern part of the Mediterranean basin, extending from Morocco to Turkey. The coastal catchment basins of these countries are of particular interest for biodiversity because several endemic species are listed as critically endangered or extirpated, where a species no longer exists in a certain area, by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The project will be developed through close partnership with the Ramsar Secretariat, its Scientific and Technological Review Panel (STRP), the MedWet Secretariat and its Observatory of Mediterranean Wetlands (OMW) and the Ramsar National Focal Points and supporting conservation agencies from the subject 11 countries. The side event will present how such collaborative approach can bring a significant breakthrough to the monitoring and assessment of essential environmental issues like wetlands conservation. Similar approaches relevant to the CBD inland waters and coastal/marine programs will be presented, in particular for those issues related to post-2010 target and indicators that will emerge from the CBD COP 10. The side event will be organized jointly by Marc Paganini, ESA responsible for the international environmental conventions, Nick Davidson, Ramsar Deputy Secretary General, Heather McKay, Ramsar STRP chair, and David Coates, UN-CBD Environmental Affairs Officer for Inland Waters.