CSIRO land degradation mapping awarded

Monday, 11 November, 2019

CSIRO land degradation mapping awarded

CSIRO has been recognised by the international Group on Earth Observations (GEO) for its work in developing robust land degradation mapping methods, receiving the 2019 GEO Sustainable Development Goals Award for Innovation during GEO Week 2019 in Canberra.

The award-winning work has been adopted by the United Nations and more than 140 countries to track and compare progress in addressing land degradation. The solution is contributing to a unified, global view where previously there had been no consistent measure for reporting on factors like over-grazing, drought and contamination. Creating a clearer picture of the scale of land degradation helps land managers make better decisions on how to address the problem.

Drawing on a network of more than 80 expert contributors and reviewers to develop global standards and tools, the solution uses Earth observation technology generated by satellite imaging to map land degradation over time. A collaboration between CSIRO and Conservation International makes the satellite data and models accessible through an open source software product called Trends.Earth.

Research scientist and CSIRO team leader Dr Neil Sims said that agencies need remote sensing tools and knowledge to understand what is going on in the landscape and to be able to report changes and implement management activities to address them.

“We developed techniques for measuring land cover change, land productivity and soil organic carbon stocks with a core focus of ensuring that all countries, at any level of capacity and technological development, could use them,” said Dr Sims.

“We were engaged by the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) because Australia is seen as a leader in Earth observation technologies and CSIRO has a strong ethos of collaboration.”

The health and livelihood of more than 1.3 billion people around the world are affected by land degradation.

Image caption: CSIRO’s award-winning work is being used by more than 140 countries to track and compare land degradation factors like over-grazing, drought and contamination. Image ©CSIRO.

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