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SWOS Report Summary

Project ID: 642088
Funded under: H2020-EU.3.5.5.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SWOS (Satellite-based Wetland Observation Service)

Reporting period: 2015-06-01 to 2016-11-30

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

The objective of the project SWOS is to develop a monitoring and information service focussing on wetland ecosystems. Globally wetlands are the ecosystems with the highest rate of loss. This is alarming, considering their significance as biodiversity hotspots and ecosystems with a central role in the water cycle, including improving water quality and reducing water scarcity, in climate regulation and the economic benefit gained from using their services.
A key limitation to their more effective conservation, sustainable management and restoration is the missing knowledge underpinning the consideration of wetlands in the implementation of key policy areas. Under the Biodiversity Strategy, Member States in Europe have committed to the mapping and assessment of ecosystem services (MAES); this provides a key instrument for an improved integration of wetlands in European policy.

SWOS is taking full advantage of the new and freely available data from the Sentinel satellites and integrating results from the ESA Globwetland and other projects. Production of maps and indicators, based on historical and current observations allow the assessment of biodiversity and monitoring of dynamic changes in an unmatched temporal and spatial resolution.

The SWOS Portal provides a unique entry point to locate, access and connect existing information. The SWOS Software toolbox GEOclassifier is an easy to use software toolbox to prepare maps and calculate indicators. With its Portal and toolbox SWOS contributes to establishing a Global Wetland Observing System (GWOS) (requested by Ramsar) by delivering the initial infrastructure.

User organisations working at all levels from local to global belong to the SWOS project team and build, together with external user organisations, the key user group of SWOS. User needs were captured through user requirements questionnaires and follow-up discussions and translated into technical requirements for the definition of SWOS products (maps and indicators).
The services that SWOS provides facilitate local and EU monitoring tasks and support international reporting obligations. SWOS positions Europe in a leading role within GEO, in particular via the new GEO-Wetlands initiative. SWOS took a leading role from the beginning and is the main contributor.
The Service Cases, developed in SWOS, put the SWOS into practice, test and validate the service and demonstrate how to use and benefit from it. The direct involvement of users ensures the usability and acceptance of the service, including harmonization with related activities, which provides a long-term impact.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

Different service cases, altogether 14, were identified from discussions about the various environments users are operating in and by linking these to the SWOS products. Each service case will be implemented and demonstrated in at least one pilot site (wetland, river basin, region or country). Altogether six main satellite derived products plus indicators have been defined for the service demonstration in about 45 wetland sites covering more than 19 countries on 3 continents. In addition the SWOS team has produced guidelines for the delimitation of the mapping areas and published on the SWOS website and Circabc platform of the EU. To ensure transferability and interoperability of the resulting spatial products and maps geospatial standards were defined, in particular nomenclature standards for the targeted legend systems Ramsar, MAES, Corine Land Cover and LCCS/LCML. A general workflow for legend harmonization and crosswalks between legends has been prepared.
A validation process was designed and the first ground truth and ancillary data requirements were identified for each map product. A scientific sound validation will be conducted in at least 10 test sites, based on the ground knowledge of local users.

The SWOS Software toolbox GEOclassifier is based on developments of previous projects, and being further developed in SWOS. Currently the SWOS software is being introduced by the SWOS partners for the mapping of the pilot test sites and service case implementation and users in different countries have started to utilise the software. A Geoportal is being developed that provides visualization and access tools for geospatial and non-geospatial datasets related to individual wetlands. The concept of a “Knowledge Hub” has been introduced to link and connect internal and external datasets, databases, documents, images, videos, and websites to provide a unique entry point for wetland-related data and information.

The SWOS team participated in meetings and conferences at all levels, from local workshops to international conferences, e.g. the Ramsar COP, several EU and ESA workshops, GEO plenaries and GEO/GEO-BON workshops or the UNFCCC and UNCBD COP, but also smaller national, regional and local workshops. Project partners have contributed through presentations, posters and information booths. A number of training and capacity building activities have been realized already, in Spain, Greece and in Algeria. Small workshops have been conducted to exchange user needs. A workshop with the entire SWOS user group took place in Ede, Netherlands in March 2016.
The SWOS website, newsletter and social media have been effective tools for reaching out to a global audience. Two journal articles have been produced and published.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

SWOS is essentially improving the availability of data, knowledge, methods and tools for monitoring and assessment of the status and trends of wetland ecosystems and their services and therefore impacting national, European and international reporting activities and the responsible stakeholders within science, industry and policy making.
The direct involvement and additional project partnership with users working at different scales and in different regions ensures the usability of project results at different levels.
With its GEOclassifier toolbox and with the SWOS Portal the project provides the infrastructure for the new approach to monitor wetlands and prepare restauration measures based on satellite derived information.
With the availability of the Sentinel data, SWOS is showcasing the development of data integration methods and providing a Copernicus operational service with valuable feedback on data integration.
SWOS is developing tools and defining standards to produce coherent datasets over Europe and globally at an affordable cost. The provision of coherent, comparable indicators will help to overcome the problems faced in the past when compiling water wetland ecosystem related information.
At the European level, SWOS is complementing the MAES process. SWOS attempts to enhance, expand and harmonise the MAES nomenclature and proposed modifications to it. At the global scale, SWOS will contribute significantly to improve the knowledge on wetlands and will create new capacity for monitoring these ecosystems at multiple scales, contributing to the establishment of a Global Wetland Observing System (GWOS), as requested by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. SWOS is contributing to the new initiative GEO-Eco and took an active role and lead the development of a new GEO initiative GEO-Wetlands and the SWOS team, in close collaboration with Ramsar, is involved in the development of the Wetland Extent Trends (WET) Index, an indicators for monitoring and assessment of Sustainable Development Goals.

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