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Space service for wetlands protection on show at Ramsar COP

This week ESA has joined around a thousand participants from 146 countries at the main policy making forum of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands in Kampala, Uganda. Today sees the presentation of results from an Agency-led initiative to develop a global wetland information service using satellites.

National delegates along with representatives from international organisations and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have met in Uganda's capital for the eight-day Ninth Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties (COP 9) to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, which began on 8 November. The theme of this COP is 'Wetlands and water: supporting life, sustaining livelihoods'. The abundant waters of the wetlands scattered across our planet make them zones of rich biological diversity. Provided wetlands remain intact, they provide a range of additional services and benefits to local communities including flood and erosion prevention, water storage and purification, nutrient recycling and the provision of food and animal fodder, improving the livelihoods of millions of people and making a major contribution to sustainable development.

For much of the 20th Century wetlands were drained or otherwise degraded. However increased understanding of the vital importance of wetlands led to the signing of Ramsar in 1971. Among the activities of the current Ramsar COP is deciding new additions to the 1524 wetlands so far designated as Wetlands of International Importance making up a total of 129 million hectares listed worldwide, with national signatories pledged to preserve the ecological character of sites on their territory and report on their status.

Being presented today to delegates at a COP 9 side event are initial results from an ESA-initiated service that uses Earth Observation technology to make that task easier. The Globwetland project employs satellite imagery to provide detailed wide-area views of individual wetlands and their surrou
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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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