Dec 06 2010
The Planetary Skin Institute today unveiled the beta version of its Tropical Forest ALERTS 1.0 platform for monitoring global land change at the 16th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. This is Planetary Skin Institute's first of a series of global public good platforms planned. Global land use change and deforestation are major issues at the climate negotiations because deforestation and degradation is responsible for up to 15% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. However, while governments are trying to develop policies and incentives to stop deforestation, many countries lack monitoring ALERTS stands for the Automated Land change Evaluation, Reporting and Tracking System. It is an online cloud-based platform for near real-time global land change detection, and is available at no cost as a global public good to members of the public at www.ourplanetaryskin.org. Targeted at national land use managers, conservation organizations, forest policymakers and scientific communities, it provides timely detection of land change events on a global basis as recently as 8 weeks after they occur with a high degree of accuracy. The ALERTS platform provides visualization, layering, and customization tools for identifying and characterizing land use change. Users can view changes in space and time on the ALERTS geospatial platform, and subscribe to personalized alerts that will notify them via email whenever land use changes are detected in geographical areas of interest. They can also use the ALERTS platform to view land use changes alongside other important environmental and geographical data, such as precipitation, boundaries of protected areas, and levels of deforestation risk. The Government of Peru has stepped forward as an early adopter of Tropical Forest ALERTS 1.0 to provide near real time monitoring of 54 million hectares of forests as part of the President of Peru's commitment to the UN General Assembly in September 2010. Peru's Ministry of Environment, or MINAM, has partnered with the Planetary Skin Institute and other leading international institutions to co-develop important scientific and technical capabilities complementing and augmenting the capabilities of their own world-class Geoservidor program. The ALERTS platform represents the product of an intensive multi-year R&D collaboration across nations, across organizations/ sectors, and across disciplines. Research and Development partners include Planetary Skin Institute world class partners NASA, the Brazilian National Space Research Institute (INPE) Centre of Earth Systems Research, the University of Minnesota Computer Science Department, Peru's Ministry of Environment (MINAM), the Terrestrial Carbon Group and Cisco Systems.
SUPPORTING QUOTES:Dr Antonio Brack Egg, Minister of Environment, Government of Peru. "The Peruvian Government's Ministry of Environment recognizes the critical importance and itself uses world-class space earth observation and geospatial platforms to understand a number of cross-cutting environmental issues and its relationship to land use change in Peru's territory through its GEOSERVIDOR platform. That is why we are now integrating the geospatial analytic platform ALERTS, given that it will allow the Peruvian Government and its citizens to monitor land cover and vegetation changes across Peru at an appropriate spatial resolution and in near real time including detection of fires, other land changes and in estimating a baseline for carbon pools, amongst others; which will allow us to have greater insight to analyze with a greater precision the changes and resulting trends. As a result, we will have an integrated decision support platform that will allow us to develop sustainable development plans and will allow us to manage our natural resources in an integrated manner and the associated risks to mention but some of the benefits". Professor Lord Nicholas Stern, London School of Economics. "Launched after only one year of operations, Planetary Skin Institute's ALERTS platform will allow for better understanding on where and how emissions arise associated to land use change by providing careful, reliable and impartial information on the land change events and thus of the environmental risks more generally. This is vital to effective policy on climate change. And it is crucial to building the international trust and collaboration that must underpin global and regional action on climate change. It is fundamental to the formation of public and private strategies on risk management across the world and for the private investment decisions that must drive the new low-carbon economy. That is why the Planetary Skin Institute's first global public good is so important." Dr. Carlos Nobre, Director of Brazil's INPE Centre of Earth Systems Research. "Technological and scientific advances will be needed in order to tackle deforestation and climate change, and information technology has a special role to play. Greater collaboration between all types of stakeholders across sectors and nations as those catalysed by the Planetary Skin Institute will be needed to create innovative solutions for global problems. ALERTS immediately creates transparency on a global scale and provides tools to help citizens and governments work together to manage land use change." Dr. Charlie Kennel, Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science, Scripps Institution of Oceanography "ALERTS shows what a globally distributed consortium of climate scientists, ecologists, economists, and a major information technology company can do in a very short time when the need is clear and the time is right. Soon, the ALERTS collaboration will include the user community, which will drive further innovation into the system. I hope that this approach will soon be extended to other issues, of which the most pressing may be adaptation to the regional and local impacts of climate change on water, agriculture, and food security."
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