Global mapping gains international acclaim

Global mapping gains international acclaim

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CLOSE EYE: CSIROs award-winning work is being used by more than 140 countries to track and compare land degradation factors like over-grazing, drought and contamination.

CLOSE EYE: CSIROs award-winning work is being used by more than 140 countries to track and compare land degradation factors like over-grazing, drought and contamination.

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MAPPING land degradation across the world has resulted in an award for CSIRO.

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MAPPING land degradation across the world has resulted in an award for CSIRO.

The national science agency received the inaugural Group on Earth Observations' sustainable development goals for innovation, during GEO Week 2019 - a global meeting in Canberra of more than 1100 delegates from government, business, non-profit and research agencies.

CSIRO's award-winning work is being used by more than 140 countries across the world to track and compare their progress in addressing land degradation, contributing to a unified, global view.

Previously there had been no consistent measure for reporting on factors such as over-grazing, drought and contamination.

Creating a clearer picture of the scale of land degradation helps land managers make better decisions on how to address the problem.

The solution uses Earth observation technology, generated by satellite imaging, to map land degradation across time, and drew on a network of more than 80 expert contributors and reviewers to develop global standards and tools.

This rapid adoption is due in part to a collaboration between CSIRO and Conservation International, to make the satellite data and models accessible through an open-source software product called Trends.Earth.

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Research scientist Neil Sims, who led the CSIRO team, said agencies needed remote sensing tools and knowledge to understand what was going on in the landscape and to be able to report changes and implement management activities to address them.

"We developed techniques for measuring land cover change, land productivity and soil organic carbon stocks with a core focus of ensuring that all countries, at any level of capacity and technological development, could use them," Dr Sims said.

"We were engaged by the United Nation Convention to Combat Desertification because Australia is seen as a leader in Earth observation technologies and CSIRO has a strong ethos of collaboration."

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