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Earth Observation Initiative in former homeland of South Africa in support to EU activities on land degradation and integrated catchment management

Final Report Summary - EO-LANDEG (Earth Observation Initiative in former homeland of South Africa in support to EU activities on land degradation and integrated catchment management)

The EO-LANDEG project was formally known as the 'Earth Observation initiative in former homeland of South Africa in support to EU activities on land degradation and integrated catchment management.' Its aim has been to monitor and propose conservation measures to combat land degradation, soil erosion, stress on ecosystem and water resources, and their integration to technical assessments, economic productivity and poverty alleviation. The project's three objectives and related achievements are as follows:

Objective 1: Setting up the pilot site. Relevance of existing data and on-going research: The first objective of EO-LANDEG was to consolidate local expertise, monitor on-going research and facilitate accessibility to spatial data and exploitation of the results with the participation and support of stakeholders. This consolidated set-up will represent the core of the Earth Observation initiative around which strategy workshops, need analyses, decision making, information and dissemination activities will take place. Several South African and European research teams are presently active in the former Transkei area. Their work encompasses a wide variety of actions addressing problems like land use, natural resources, service delivery, self governance and rectifying the problems created by the past political situation.

The main achievement of objective 1 was to collect enough data and information at catchment scale in order to assess the feasibility of promoting the pilot site at international level. The first objective of EO-LANDEG to consolidate local expertise, monitor on-going research and facilitate accessibility to spatial data and exploitation of the results was therefore achieved.

Objective 2: Assessing Earth Observation and monitoring tools: remote sensing simultaneously covers several monitoring parameters and allows measuring changes and speed of changes of the natural environment. This activity is dedicated to setting up of a working group on land-use remote sensing and its application on assessment and monitoring of land and ecosystem degradation, desertification, erosion, utilisation and protection of natural resources in Transkei.

The relevance of different techniques of assessment using several remote sensing approaches and types of images were discussed. Of special interest is the analysis of newly developed innovative observation tools that are still in needs of application in the estimation of reserves of natural resources: radar, radar interferometry (INSAR), imaging spectroscopy, very high spatial resolution…

A workshop in the Eastern Cape has been organised to present the project and discuss Earth Observation techniques for land degradation with invited scientists. The workshop aimed at putting together scientists and stakeholders and exchanging views. Despite that, apart from the project participants, no European scientists attended the workshop this event has been a good opportunity to exchange with stakeholders and scientists in charge of conservation measure involving local communities. It has also been an invaluable opportunity to establish the South African partnership for a possible Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) project submission.

The field visit has shown how remediation and conservation measures can be undertaken with the active involvement of local communities. The second objective of EO-LANDEG in assessing of Earth Observation and monitoring tools was achieved, despite lacking involvement of European scientist outside the project. Efforts will continue to improve this situation, in particular in view of FP7.

Objective 3: Dissemination and promotion of the EO-LANDEG initiative. The objectives here were to demonstrate the exploitation of the results of the Transkei pilot Earth Observation initiative to the international scientific community, local stakeholders and policy makers, to test EO-LANDEG as an educational tool at school and university level as well as at local community level, to promote the team and to position itself as a partner in a future EU consortium. EO-LANDEG was able to provide a site-based model as a research platform and information management system to be compared with, or applied to, regions in Europe and Africa.

This objective has been well addressed by positioning the research team in the South African research framework with the support of the main stake holders. The education part of the project (dissemination at university, school and community) was very welcome by several organisations and NEPAD and will be a major parameter and initiative that the team can bring to a new FP7 project. Two project flyers were issued in June 2006 and 2007 and distributed to potentially interested scientists in EU (mailing list) and were distributed to stakeholders in South Africa mailing and / or printed copies.

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