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Southern Africa programme

Many environmental changes on a global level are of such a complex nature, that their analysis and assessment asks for data from a variety of sources. The wealth of ecological diversity in the Southern African region renders it a clear and central barometer for global environmental changes. Developing a higher scientific capacity in the region is a prerequisite for a functional global observing system. Yet the region's food security issues, related to land use and freshwater availability, demonstrate the inextricable relationship between socio-economic factors and the environment.

Capacity Building

GTOS started its activities in southern Africa in 1999, with a comprehensive survey on Environmental Information Systems. In June 2002, GTOS continued to build technical capacities in the region by organizing and supporting a workshop in Pretoria related to natural resources and food security information management and exchange. The workshop was in collaboration with the Agricultural Research Council, Institute for Soil, Climate and Water (ARC-ISCW) of South Africa.

The 25 participants were in positions of senior managerial and decision-making responsibility in government ministries and agencies from Botswana, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. This workshop confirmed the need for a decision-support tool focusing on publishing and accessing spatial data.

Data management software

GTOS has trained and provided data management software to many individuals and institutes in southern Africa. A comprehensive data atlas for southern Africa has been developed and is freely available from the GTOS Secretariat.

Resource centre

GTOS has presented the concept of developing a resource centre by GTOS. The resource centre would provide spatial data products, management and services through activities that would include:

1. strengthening coordination of activities to reduce duplication;

2. generating key products and data standards; and

3. liberating relevant spatial information that remains unknown and unused.

The implementation of the resource centre now depends on securing sources of external funding, and a project proposal has been submitted to potential donors.

Useful links


Net Primary Productivity

Terrestrial Carbon Observation


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© FAO   ::   Global Terrestrial Observing System - GTOS   ::   29 January 2004