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Agricultural land use The impact of human activities around the globe is most readily seen in terrestrial environments - this is where people live and most human activity takes place. It is now recognised that this human activity has caused severe degradation of many terrestrial ecosystems, and that there have been consequential losses in productive capacity, in the availability of potable water supplies, and in biodiversity.

In order to manage the human impacts, to avoid additional degradation and to design programmes to restore ecosystems, there is a need for sound, up-to-date information about the state of the ecosystems and the processes that sustain them, the pressures that are affecting them and responses to those pressures. This information needs to be readily available to key decision-makers in government and industry, so that future decisions about the management of terrestrial environments will be consistent with sustainable development principles.

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The World Summit on Sustainable Development pointed to the need to

"Promote the development and wider use of earth observation technologies, including satellite remote sensing, global mapping and geographic information systems, to collect quality data on environmental impacts, land use and its changes."

What is IGOL?

Integrated Global Observations for Land (IGOL) is a theme of the Integrated Global Observing Strategy (IGOS). IGOS 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. It is being developed as an over-arching strategy for conducting observations relating to climate and atmosphere, oceans and coasts, the land surface and the Earth's interior.

The established land team has the responsibility to design a cohesive programme of activities which will provide a comprehensive picture of the present state of terrestrial ecosystems, and build capacity for long-term monitoring of those ecosystems. IGOL will build on current initiatives such as the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and existing monitoring programmes such as the Global Land Cover Network (GLCN) linked to relevant research programmes to ensure that the best possible products are produced and made available to a wide range of users at the national and international level.

IGOL theme report now available
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