Space technologies have been used during the last 40 years for monitoring the environment and assessing its associated state of conservation. For this reason, UNESCO and its space partners are assisting developing countries in the monitoring and documentation of natural heritage sites. Earth Observation from space allows understanding changes occurred during the last 40 years, enables to derive accurate cartography which is vital for the management of natural heritage sites.
Space technologies assist decision makers and site managers with the protection and conservation of natural heritage sites by supporting them with accurate data and information (cartography, Geographical Information Systems, models, among others).
Satellite imagery proved to be an ideal way to monitor the DRC’s large and often inaccessible sites, assess changes and derive the first and only set of accurate cartography of all 5 sites. Capacity building at the local level and Geographical Information System that now constitutes the basis for conservation planning resulted from the project.
Through this project, accurate cartographic products covering the entire habitat of mountain gorillas were produced for the first time, derived from satellite imagery and allowing national conservation authorities to track and monitor any changes or degradation of their habitat. A series of training workshops were also organized to enhance local conservation and management capacities.
The project focused on the development and implementation of a 4D Information Management System for the conservation authorities of the Biosphere Reserve and Archaeological Urban Centre of Calakmul. This online system allows the managers of the natural and cultural protected area to store, share, visualize and create relations between their data, in order to coordinate various conservation, management, planning, monitoring and research activities undertaken in the area.
Spanning the borders between Argentina and Brazil lies one of the most ecologically rich and diverse ecosystems in the world: the World Heritage National Parks of Iguazu (Argentina) and Iguaçu (Brazil). UNESCO and the Argentinean National Space Activities Commission (CONAE) have elaborated an ongoing joint project to assist Argentina and Brazil in their conservation efforts.
Using various remote sensing space technologies and data, aerial photography and ground digital images in coordination with fieldwork, UNESCO and ESA derived biodiversity indicators to support monitoring efforts and help policy-makers determine whether progress was being made towards attaining the 2010 Biodiversity Target. One of the project’s innovative and unique components was the identification, assessment and spatial definition of a marine corridor between four UNESCO World Heritage sites.