EO technology at the service of wetland protection: Sentinel 2 and GlobWetlandII meetings.

The use of Earth Observation (EO) technology in combination with innovative geo-spatial analysis has become an important information source which can be applied to the analysis of all kinds of environmental phenomena and issues including wetland conservation and management. EO technology provides a quick and cost effective method to obtain data that support the mapping and inventory of wetlands as a basis for management oriented assessment and monitoring. New types of satellites with more capacities together with a free-use policy will provide scientists with better quality information and allow for new aspects to be researched.

The Sentinel 2 being developed by the European Space Agency under the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) aims at achieving an autonomous and operational Earth observation capacity. The Sentinel 2 preparatory Symposium took place in ESA-ESRIN, Frascati, Italy. The MedWet coordinator was invited to attend and had the opportunity to listen to various presentations which outlined the use of EO for analysing environmental processes. Concerning wetlands, some important elements it would contribute to would be more accurate land cover mapping due to higher resolution, more data for comparison due to more frequent revisiting and would have better capacity in assessing water quality.

On April 28th MedWet also attended the GlobWetlandII consulting partners’ strategic meeting. It was a productive meeting where participants from Wetlands International, Ramsar Secretariat and Mediterranean Wetlands Observatory/ Tour du Valat provided ideas and advice to the GWII team. The main issues discussed were a presentation by the GWII team of the progress made, the installation of the GWII system and training plan and the GWII phase out in terms of contractual obligations. Other issues as the web-GIS component of the project, the presence of GWII in the Agadir Symposium and the Ramsar COP11, the future of GWII in terms of a lasting impact beyond contractual obligations and the potential for a GWIII and further collaboration with Ramsar were also discussed.

Concerning the status of the GWII project, 25% of the map production has already been done, validation of all the selected sites has been completed and the GWII toolbox for ArcGIS using Corine and Ramsar classification for land cover mapping is functional. The participants advised the GWII team on some technical issues and provided ideas for training and the dissemination of the software before and after the scheduled end of the project at the end of the year.

MedWet has supported the GlobWetlandII project from its conception and it has also been inscribed in the list of Agadir Commitments. The GWII aims to develop a pilot information system as a contribution to the set up of a Global Wetlands Observing System (G-WOS). This G-WOS is supported by the Ramsar Convention , as per strategy 1.2 of its Strategic Plan 2009-2015 adopted at the Ramsar COP10 in South Korea.

Brief explanation of the project
The GlobWetlandII system software has three components, a remote sensing component (satellite image pre-processing, land use/land cover classification, change detection etc), a GIS component and a Web-GIS component for the permanent access to the maps and information data that have been produced during the live time of the project or provided by users and partners. The system software capacity is being demonstrated through the production of a number of wetland related geo-information maps and indicators, over 200 wetland sites and surrounding areas, which were selected over the coastal catchment areas of the Southern and Eastern part of the Mediterranean basin.