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A new IGOS Integrated Global Observation of Land (IGOL) was proposed by John Townshend, who was encouraged to develop the theme after an initial pre-proposal presentation at the IGOS-P10 bis meeting at Colorado Springs in November 2003. The proposal arose from the recognition that IGOS-P has not yet considered many observational needs relating to many aspects of the land, such as sustainable economic development, natural resources management, conservation and biodiversity.

The IGOL proposal was presented at the 14th CEOS SIT meeting (25 May 2004) and the 9th G3OS meeting (26 May 2004) and participants from both meetings indicated their support to the proposal. At the IGOS-Partners 11 Meeting (27 May 2004), the IGOS-P Co-Chairs confirmed agreement for the adoption of the new IGOS Land Theme and referred the IGOL team to the IGOS Process Paper for guidance on the next steps.

The main components of IGOL will be observations pertaining to:

Anthropogenic-driven activities
  • land cover and land use;
  • fire and other major disturbances;
  • human settlement and population;
  • the extent and condition of ecosystems managed for agriculture, pastoralism and forestry;
  • the extent and condition of natural ecosystems including those used for biodiversity conservation;
  • soils and land degradation;
  • biodiversity and ecosystem services;
  • elevation and drainage.

Since the approval of IGOL, John Townshend, co-chair of IGOL, and the GTOS Secretariat have started to plan the theme organization, activities and budget. An initial team has been formed of interested partners and internationally recognized experts (see next section). FAO, ESA, NRSCC, UNEP and USGS have already made early commitments to provide resources.

International co-ordination mechanisms for observations are expected to be lead by FAO (especially GTOS), UNEP, UNESCO, WMO, and CEOS agencies. Land observations are currently not well coordinated in many areas; this will be a particular challenge for the Theme team.

Data from a combination of sources, both ex situ and in situ, will be compiled and analysed to produce information products at national to global scales that are designed specifically to meet current and future society requirements.


 
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