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International Organizations

The Global Terrestrial Observing System (GTOS) is an international organization co-sponsored by UNEP, U.N. Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), FAO, International Council for Science (ICSU), and World Meteorological Organization (WMO). GTOS promotes the improved collection of, and access to, bio-physical and socio-economic geo-referenced data, with an initial emphasis on existing research centres. The GTOS secretariat has contributed significantly to the design phase of GOFC-GOLD. A number of areas of future collaboration have been identified; including working to provide greater access to in-situ and earth observation data, development of information products related to Net Primary Productivity, and providing guidance and assistance for nations in meeting their reporting obligations under the Framework Convention on Climate Change. Due to a strong motivation by both GTOS and GOFC-GOLD to work closely together to achieve common objectives, GOFC-GOLD has become a panel of GTOS.

The Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) is a partnership of WMO, UNESCO, UNEP and ICSU. Its objectives are to ensure the acquisition of data for climate system monitoring, climate change detection and response monitoring, the application of climate information to national economic development, and research.

GTOS and GCOS have indicated their strong need for information on global forest cover and forest attributes, primarily through the work of the Terrestrial Observations Panel for Climate (TOPC), a joint GTOS-GCOS activity. TOPC has provided expertise for the development of GOFC-GOLD based on its pioneering work in identifying a suite of observations needed for GTOS and GCOS. It is currently leading the development of the Terrestrial Carbon Theme for the IGOS Partnership, and will provide essential guidance for GOFC-GOLD concerning the observational requirements needed to understand the terrestrial carbon budget of the earth.

The Integrated Global Observing System Partners (IGOS-P) seeks to provide a comprehensive framework to harmonize the common interests of the major space-based and in-situ systems for global observation of the Earth. Its aim is to provide an over-arching strategy for conducting observations relating to climate and atmosphere, oceans and coasts, the land surface and the Earth's interior. IGOS-P will build upon the strategies of existing international global observing programs, such as GOFC-GOLD, and upon current achievements, in seeking to improve observing capacity and deliver observations in a cost-effective and timely fashion.

The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has contributed substantially to the development of GOFC-GOLD by providing input and guidance concerning its own requirements for earth observation data, and also by providing input on the needs of its member states. One of FAO's projects is to carry out a global Forest Resources Assessment every ten years. Back in 1990, data from earth-observation satellites played a major role in the assessment of tropical forest resources. For the year 2000, the assessment has been expanded to the temperate and boreal forests. FAO, through its national forest programs, also works with individual nations to provide them with the tools and capacity to bring about improved forest management at the national level; this includes the development of criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has contributed to the development of GOFC-GOLD, particularly with respect to information products of interest to UNEP, such as current information on active fires, and the ability to carry out rapid post-fire assessment of burned areas. UNEP operates Global Resource Information Database (GRID), which maintains a distributed global archive of geo-referenced environmental data in computer-accessible format. This data is acquired from various organizations and provides geo-referenced and tabular data and GIS support to users world-wide. GOFC-GOLD will provide more current information about forests for UNEP.

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