CORDIS - Forschungsergebnisse der EU

Remote sensing and geo informatio n processing in the assessment and monitoring of land degradation and desertification in support of the UNCCD; state of the art and operational perspectives

Final Report Summary - DESERTSTOP (Remote sensing and geo informatio n processing in the assessment and monitoring of land degradation and desertification in support of the UNCCD (...))

The problem of desertification received worldwide attention with the 'United Nations conference on desertification' (UNCOD) and the 'United Nations convention to combat desertification' (UNCCD). The European Union responded to the objectives set forth by the UNCCD and the following declarations with a number of regulations, directives and initiatives, such as the Natura2000 programme, the EU habitat and birds directives, the 'Concerted action to support the northern Mediterranean action programme to combat desertification' (MEDRAP) or the 'European network for research into global change' (ENRICH) and 'Global monitoring for environment and security' (GMES) initiatives. Correspondingly, a number or dedicated research projects have been funded, such as Medaction, Desertlinks, Georange, Ladamer, etc.

It is obvious that any measure taken against desertification, or the design of dedicated early warning systems, must take into account the spatial dimension of physical conditions and process driving factors, which underlines the essential contribution required from remote sensing and geoinformation processing. Notwithstanding the necessity to account for specific local conditions, a convergence of methods and pathways exist, that allows the use of remote sensing and geomatics approaches in a wider range of degradation- and desertification-related research and application efforts. This fact suggests an exchange of experience and techniques on an international level.

The goals of the project DESERTSTOP may be summarised under the following major objectives:
- establishment of high-ranking scientific committee and conference layout;
- announcement of the initiative including conference announcement;
- identification of core study areas and assignment of commissioned studies;
- establishment of web-related presentation, dissemination and interactive elements;
- organisation of conference logistics, including organisation of reviews, travel support etc.;
- editing and preparation of abstract proceedings;
- editing and preparation of high-quality conference proceedings;
- establishment of interface between European commission, scientific committee and other involved organisations;
- thematic accompaniment of the initiative.

It was the focus of DESERTSTOP to provide for a high-level scientific conference, where renowned experts present recent advances in the fields of remote sensing and geoinformation processing in a land degradation/desertification context. At the same time, major efforts were dedicated to ensuring the participation of young researchers and researchers from countries affected by these processes. For this reason, DESERTSTOP underlined the European Commission's commitment to ensuring participation of and technology transfer to developing countries.

On the other hand, the participation of stakeholders from affected countries and the involvement of the UNCCD have been important cornerstones in steering state-of-the-art research to adequately appraise practical demands on their research. Especially young researchers are expected to strongly benefit from this assembly of both high-level scientists and stakeholders with a more applied perspective.

In order to keep up the dialogue initiated by the conference, it is envisaged to review the collected material with the ultimate goal of providing for further educational/training activities, such as European summer schools etc.

Finally, on a scientific level, different dissemination pathways were followed, such as the publication of full conference proceedings as well as a publication of selected contributions with major international journals, book series etc. This is an important element in communicating scientific progress in the field and documenting the high level of European research.

During the second reporting period, the focus was set on the actual execution of the conference, which was termed '1st international conference on remote sensing and geoinformation processing in the assessment and monitoring of land degradation and desertification' (RGLDD).
Prior to the event, a large number of organisational issues required particular attention, such as selection of the conference venue and planning of related logistics, such as technical facilities, catering and transport service to and from the venue. Besides this, the attractiveness of the event was promoted by organising a suite of accompanying and side events, such as an Ice-breaker pre-registration hosted in the historic electoral palace (Kurfürstliches Palais), a guided city walking tour and whine tasting, and a conference dinner organised within the ancient roman baths of the Viehmarkt.
Session 1 was concerned with the derivation of enhanced parameters from traditional and novel sensors systems, with a focus on their applicability in a land degradation context.
Session 2 focused on coarse-scale monitoring concepts.
Session 3 was set up to provide a frame for approaches that extend beyond remote sensing to accommodate spatial modelling and geoinformation processing.
Session 4 gave particular attention on approaches that show potential to serve as an early warning system with respect to different factors.
Session 5 was dedicated to the presentation of applied studies and local or regional implementations of monitoring and assessment schemes.

The conference was concluded with an open discussion round were all participants were given an opportunity to provide feedback on the event. In particular, the session chairs reported on their conclusions from the talks and presentations. It was agreed that large benefit for the struggle against desertification and land degradation is drawn from remote sensing data and techniques, as well as their integration with other spatial and non-spatial data and integration in interpretation and modelling environments.

With the highly successful organisation of the conference, the global participation and the high scientific standard maintained throughout, the DESERTSTOP-SSA has achieved its goals and provided a clear step forward towards the goals set forth in the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6).