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Earth observation for biodiversity and ecosystems

Eastern Europe and the Caucasus are facing threats to their environment due to agricultural intensification, urbanisation, overexploitation of biological resources and pollution. This has caused the degradation and destruction of habitats and loss of species.

In Moldova for example, the amount of soil affected by erosion is estimated to increase by 0.86% each year and is 40-60% less fertile than in non-eroded areas.

Earth observation technologies include Remote Sensing – whereby the Earth is scanned by satellites - and Geographic Information Systems, whereby different datasets are captured and analysed. Both can help monitor environmental changes and show their evolution. Given their importance to decision makers, data need to be readily available and easy to access.

By learning how to use these tools and techniques, national experts can learn how to identify and manage threats to the environment and develop policy responses.

To this end, a first set of workshops on ‘Mainstreaming biodiversity and ecosystem services’ were held in Tbilisi, Georgia on 21-23 February and Chisinau, Moldova on 27 February to 1st March 2017, attended by a total of about 80 national experts.

The experts took part in a consultative meeting to identify and agree on study areas and identify technical needs or gaps in data. Meetings also took place with national data agencies to review existing knowledge and data.

A hands-on training was also held on the GeoNode spatial data visualization and sharing tool. This was essential to ensure a common understanding of spatial data concepts, standards and internationally-recognized tools and programmes so that spatial data can be managed efficiently and support sound environmental decisions.

As a result, a capacity development programme and tools to support the mapping and assessment of some ecosystem services will now be agreed with the Ministries of Environment of Georgia and Moldova.

The workshops were organised under the ‘Mainstreaming biodiversity and ecosystem services in Eastern Europe and Caucasus’ project funded by the Ministry of Climate and Environment and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway. UN Environment carries out the project with technical support from GRID Geneva.

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