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Satellites Aid Wales Conservation Efforts

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BANGOR, Wales, Sept. 2 -- Space satellites could transform the way the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW), a government conservation advisory group, gathers information about wildlife habitats across the country in a pioneering project focusing on the Berwyn mountain range.

CCW has been working with the British National Space Centre (BNSC) on a test project using satellites in space to help in its survey work. That project looked at how well satellite data could identify different habitats on the Berwyn, an area originally mapped as part of the open-access work. The results were up to 80 percent accurate, the CCW said. Space sector technology could help CCW develop practical tools to help it work more effectively in habitat location and in monitoring land use, fieldwork planning and environmental assessment. Since satellites pass over Wales twice a day, their feedback can be up-to-date and relevant to very specific areas.

It's a clear January day over much of England and Wales in this image taken from European Space Agency's environmental research satellite Envisat with the Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS). Off the south coast of England, the light green color surrounding the Isle of White is suspended sediment. Sediment is also being transported into the Bristol Estuary from the River Severn in south western England, with the city itself just on the eastern side of the estuary. In Wales, Snowdonia and the Brecon Beacons are visible under scattered light clouds. (Image: British National Space Centre)
   Alan Brown, CCW's remote sensing manager, said, "Clearly, there are big advantages in using space information. They can be very quick. A satellite now passes over Wales every day and records an image of the area in a matter of minutes."
   Developing these methods could result in huge potential savings in staff time, effort and traveling over traditional methods of surveying and monitoring methods, because staff efforts can be concentrated on areas that were unclear on satellite maps, the CCW said.
"The images created give us an unparalleled opportunity to see Wales from outer space and provides a new way of revealing the dynamic changes that are taking place to our landscape," Brown added.

UK landcover map derived from Landsat images. Satellite data and aerial photography are both used to keep track of the changes in land use. High-resolution satellite images now make it possible to view objects on the ground in great detail from space. (Image: European Space Agency)
   The project was initiated by the BNSC's Government Information From The Space Sector program, which promotes the uptake of space-derived information in the operation of other government departments.

Most of the imagery used in the project was taken by the Landsat satellite, which provides global coverage of the Earth from instruments that measure sunlight reflected from the surface in regions of the spectrum where vegetation types can be discriminated during the growing season.

For more information, visit:
Sep 2004
Berwyn mountainsBritish National Space CentreCountryside Council for WalesEnvisatMedium Resolution Imaging SpectrometerMERISNews & FeaturesSpace satellitespectroscopy

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