Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Satellite maps will ease plight of endangered mountain gorillas

11.04.2005


A two-year joint ESA and UNESCO project to chart the habitats of endangered mountain gorillas with satellites came to a fruitful finish in Paris, with end-users receiving final maps and geographical data products for use in the field.



"These maps will help us make our anti-poaching efforts more effective," said Eulalie Bashige, Director General of the Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN) of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). "We can also clarify the exact location of our national park boundaries, improve our biological inventories of the parks, and plan out gorilla eco-tourism."

Less than 700 mountain gorillas remain alive, found in highland forests that straddle the borders between Rwanda, Uganda and the DRC. These regions make up a set of five national parks; three of these have been designated World Heritage Sires by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), while the remaining two have been nominated for the same status.


The parks have long boundaries that run across inaccessible and hardly mapped territory, with no compatible maps available across national borders. An influx of refugees into the area in recent years has led to illegal forest clearing for agriculture or fuel, as well as illegal poaching for food, reducing the living space left for the gorillas.

ESA and UNESCO have been working together on a project called Build Environment for Gorilla (BEGo) to precisely chart the region in order to help national conservation agencies and non-governmental organisations working in and around the parks.

During a 7 April meeting at ESA Headquarters in Paris, BEGo partners and end-users including the ICCN, Uganda’s Institute of Tropical Forest Conservation (ITFC) and the International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP) received the final outputs of the project – map products and layers for use in standard geo-information system (GIS) software.

"This project is a result of the Open Initiative agreed by ESA and UNESCO in Toulouse in 2001, to apply space technologies to support the World Heritage Convention," said Jean-Paul Poncelet, ESA Director of External Relations. "BEGo has been a user-oriented project, aimed at providing not just maps but a complete cost-effective information service to support UNESCO, the national authorities and the non-governmental organisations working in these places.

"This fruitful partnership is an example of the potential of space technology to support the implementation of the World Heritage Convention and conserve World Heritage sites worldwide. Preserving our common heritage is everybody’s concern."

Walter Erdelen, UNESCO Assistant Director General for Natural Sciences agreed that BEGo showed that the Open Initiative between the two organisations has produced real outcomes, but that the end of the project represented "only a beginning and not an end".

He congratulated project participants for the dedication they had shown and said that now the governments of DRC, Rwanda and Congo could take the maps and all this information to better preserve the mountain gorillas and many other important species in the region.

"After all this time and hard work it is exciting to get our hands on the finalised maps and products," said Maryke Gray, regional monitoring officer of the IGCP.

She explained that the mapping could not have been done without Earth Observation, which provided an efficient, cost-effective and frequently updated means of surveying the most inaccessible regions of interest. The effect of large refugee camps in the vicinity could be clearly monitored, as could the impact on vegetation of volcanic activity.

Combining the GIS layers provided by BEGo with GPS data collected in the field, gaps in existing anti-poacher patrol coverage could be identified and redressed, and the migration of gorilla groups could be followed across national boundaries.

Five sites in Central Africa have been covered by BEGo activity: Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park World Heritage Site, the Kahuzi-Biega National Park World Heritage Site in DRC, Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park and – running contigious with it - the Virunga National Park World Heritage Site in DRC and the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda.

Satellite images have been used to produce detailed base maps across the five parks, Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) and maps of land-use and land-cover change from about 1990 onwards. Belgium’s Royal Museum of Central Africa and the Catholic University of Louvain then validated the map prototypes, which were also evaluated on the ground during end-user fieldwork.

BEGo was a service demonstration project taking place as part of ESA’s Data User Element, with Netherlands-based Synoptics as prime contractor with Belgium-based Keyobs collecting user requirements and responsible for mapping.

Mario Hernández of UNESCO’s World Heritage List said that BEGo methodology could be replicated for other World Heritage sites in future. The Belgian Federal Science Policy Office is already backing an effort to use space technologies to map all World Heritage Sites in DRC.

Mariangela D’Acunto | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esa.int/esaEO/SEMKCEV797E_environment_0.html

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Upcycling of PET Bottles: New Ideas for Resource Cycles in Germany
25.06.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Betriebsfestigkeit und Systemzuverlässigkeit LBF

nachricht Dry landscapes can increase disease transmission
20.06.2018 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Global study of world's beaches shows threat to protected areas

19.07.2018 | Earth Sciences

New creepy, crawly search and rescue robot developed at Ben-Gurion U

19.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Metal too 'gummy' to cut? Draw on it with a Sharpie or glue stick, science says

19.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>