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Satellites support Kyoto Protocol through forest mapping service

A prototype service utilising satellites for mapping forests to aid compliance with the Kyoto Protocol has been endorsed by end users from European countries one environmental ministry representative called the baseline carbon stock information provided a "goldmine".

ESA's Kyoto-Inventory service has been designed to produce information products on changing land use associated with carbon 'sinks' or 'sources' that can support national governments' reporting requirements to the Kyoto Protocol. This three-year demonstration service has now formally ended, but activities are set to continue under the banner of a broader project called GSE-Forest Monitoring. It is accepted fact that the global climate is heating up, and increased human-induced emissions of 'greenhouse gases' chief among them carbon dioxide is the reason why. The Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which entered into force on 16 February 2005, commits its signatories to limit overall emissions of these gases.

Developed countries in general are required to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 5% from those during reference year 1990, with the European Union committed to a reduction of 8%. However the Protocol also includes a mechanism for offsetting emissions against increases in the stock of carbon stored in vegetation, in particular forests.

What the Protocol requires for such offsetting to take place is annual reporting of land use changes especially afforestation, reforestation and deforestation (ARD) - associated with shifts in the terrestrial carbon stock, to be carried out at the national level.

ESA has a long-standing interest in applying Earth Observation to strengthen the effectiveness of international conventions, so work began on the Kyoto-Inventory service for land cover mapping, supported through the Agency's Data User Programme back in November 2002. Data from satellites including ERS, Landsat,
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Contact: Mariangela D'Acunto
mariangela.dacunto@esa.int
39-069-418-0856
European Space Agency
11-Nov-2005


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