To explore NASA's role in conservation, the August issue of Conservation Biology includes a 12-paper special section "NASA and the Conservation of Biodiversity", which was co- edited by Woody Turner of NASA's Office of Earth Science in Washington DC and Eleanor Sterling of the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, New York.
Many of these projects stem from the 1997 NASA-Smithsonian workshop "Applications of NASA Technology for Biodiversity Conservation", where NASA researchers and conservation biologists found ways of applying NASA's tools to conservation challenges worldwide.
The projects include:
--using radar images to distinguish patches of natural forest from areas of cocoa planted under remnant canopy trees in Brazil's Atlantic coast rainforest. Compared to optical technology, radar has the advantage of penetrating both the cloud cover and tree canopy. Such work could help identify high-biodiversity areas for reserves and corridors. This work is by Saasan Saatchi of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California, and colleagues.
--using astronauts' low Earth orbit photographs to identify
woodlands damaged by the growing elephant population in
Botswana's Chobe National Park. Nearly 400,000 photographs
taken by astronauts since the late 1960s are available in a
searchable database at http://eol.jsc.nasa.gov/sseop. This
work is by Julie Robinson of NASA's Johnson Space Center in
Houston, Texas, and her colleagues.
Contact: Woody Turner
Society for Conservation Biology