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International Astronautical Federation joins project to protect World Heritage sites

rogressively established similar arrangements for providing satellite data to protect these sites, including Argentina, Brasil, Canada, India, the Iraq Space Department, Jordan, Morocco, Poland, Turkey and the United States (NASA).

The World Heritage list includes sites, monuments or landscapes that have been deemed of 'exceptional universal value' in either cultural or natural terms. There are currently 830 different sites on UNESCOs World Heritage list. Of these, 644 of them are listed as cultural, 162 as natural and 24 as both. UNESCO considers 31 of them currently listed to be in danger. The initiative is especially aimed at helping developing nations monitor World Heritage sites on their territories more effectively.

ESA and UNESCO highlighted the potential of the initiative through a two-year pilot project called BEGo (Build Environment for Gorilla) in which satellite imagery and products were provided to conservation groups and authorities monitoring and protecting the habitats of endangered mountain gorillas in national parks located in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. These parks are either considered World Heritage sites or candidate sites, and make up the last refuge of the less than 700 mountain gorillas still alive.

Because these habitats totalled more than eight hundred thousand hectares, with long boundaries across extremely inaccessible and seldom-mapped terrain, ground-based observations, if possible, were extremely difficult. Data from ESA satellites helped produce maps, detect changes over time in how the land was used and create three-dimensional digital elevation models of the terrain.

According to Eulalie Bashige, Director General of the Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN) of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the maps were considered helpful in making anti-poaching efforts more effective and planning out gorilla eco-tourism.

"ESA is determin
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Contact: Mariangela D'Acunto
mariangela.dacunto@esa.int
39-069-418-0856
European Space Agency
21-Mar-2007


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