July 11, 2013
The International Symposium on Land Cover Mapping for the African Continent, hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD), with support from the U.S. Department of the Interior, Tsinghua University, and the joint USAID/NASA SERVIR program recently took place in Nairobi, Kenya.
Land-cover data—mapping out forests, grasslands, urban areas, and agricultural lands—are critical for sustainable development and environmental applications. The data inform weather forecasting, human and ecosystem health, climate change, agricultural sustainability, management of water, forest and other natural resources, land use planning, reducing land degradation, conservation of biodiversity, and renewable energy assessment. Information on land-cover changes over time provides significant value to the scientific community and the general public. Accurate land-cover information also plays a critical role in supporting policy and decision-making at local, regional, continental, and global levels.
However, in many African countries, data gaps, inadequate institutional frameworks, limited networks of experts and technological barriers mean that the specific needs of policy makers are not always met.
The symposium brought together a diverse group of more than 80 participants from Africa, America, Europe, and Asia of government decision-makers, policy advisors, academia, and nongovernmental representatives from 19 African countries.
The major objectives of the three-day event were to share ongoing technical collaboration, data availability, capacity building successes, and to strengthen policy and technical networks among the various stakeholders.
“It was an excellent symposium,” said Dr. Farah Hussain, Director General of RCMRD. “Thanks for the contributions from all the important international, national, and regional players. We are looking forward to working with all of you to move forward the agenda of land use/cover mapping in Africa.”
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