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Space-eye-view could help stop global wildlife decline

22 July 2015

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Conservation scientists need to collaborate with space agencies, such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the European Space Agency (ESA), to identify measures which help track biodiversity declines around the world. Scientists, led by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), UK, and University of Twente, Netherlands, are calling for urgent cooperation, according to a comment published in Nature.

In a move that previously proved successful in helping to monitor climate change on a global scale, scientists believe that space technology could help track biodiversity across the planet. Satellite images can quickly reveal where and how to reverse the loss of biological diversity. Vegetation productivity or leaf cover can, for example, be measured across continents from space while providing information about biodiversity levels on the ground.

Publicly-funded space agencies, including NASA and ESA, already collect and regularly provide open-access to satellite data. However, a lack of agreement between conservation biologists and space agencies on a definitive set of variables to track, as well as how to translate such information into useful data for conservation, has meant that so far this game-changing resource has remained untapped.

Source: Zoological Society of London (ZSL)

Image credit: NASA - Landsat view of western Australia

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