The European Commission, DG XII, has recently approved seven new research projects, to be funded under Area 3.2 (Space techniques applied to environmental monitoring and research) of the Environment and Climate research programme. These projects will share a total of ECU 13.6 million in funding. The seven projects, selected from a total of twenty-four proposals submitted in response to the call published in June 1997 (OJ No C 183 of 17.6.1997 p. 18), aim to improve understanding of the environment and the sustainable management of natural resources. The seven projects to be funded are: - The FUEGO project on fire detection follows on from an earlier project and aims to design and construct a prototype sensor for a dedicated satellite system for forest fire detection and monitoring in the Mediterranean region. This prototype is to be tested on an aircraft; - The Vegetation project aims at ensuring the improvement and continuity of the programme, following the launch of the SPOT 4-borne VEGETATION instrument on board an ARIANE 4 rocket, launched on 24 March 1998. The project is aimed at designing and developing technological innovations for the VEGETATION 2 payload, to be flown on SPOT 5 around 2001, as well as the improvement of existing products and services to users interested in the monitoring of the earth's vegetation; - The PACE (Polarization and Aerosol Characterization Equipment) project aims at building a new space-borne prototype instrument for the measurement of aerosols in the atmosphere. The prototype will help improve knowledge of climatic processes, including the impact of anthropogenic activities; - The SAAGE (Space Applications for Agriculture and the Environment) aims at defining the characteristics of a dedicated, optical, high-resolution satellite system for agricultural applications. The instrument is based on the use of a superspectral sensor with proper spatial resolution, potentially complemented by a thermal infrared sensor with a lower resolution; - The concerted action COCONUDS (Coordinated Constellation of User Defined Satellites) will investigate the possibility of developing a constellation of earth observation satellites to meet the as yet unsatisfied needs of local decision-makers for local environmental information; - The objective of the CLOUDS project is to study the mission of a new satellite to provide accurate, comprehensive and frequent observations of cloud interiors (ice and liquid water), in addition to surface radiative properties, in order to improve climate and weather forecasting; - MSRS (Multispectral High Resolution System) aims at developing an advanced sensor for visible and near-infrared remote sensing applications, including agriculture.