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Improving decision making through provision of information and assessments and fostering of knowledge management for food and agriculture.

Background and Rationale

Appropriate geo-referenced information on physical and socio-economic resources for agriculture in the broadest sense (including forestry and fisheries) is of substantial value in the analysis of economic feasibility and environmental acceptability of agricultural and rural development and food security programmes.

Over the last few years FAO has established geo-referenced data bases on land cover, global land and water resources, on worldwide forest resources and has created a global fisheries information system. FAO has also initiated global inventories of livestock production systems and initiated the mapping of generalized farming systems.
Data on land use are being compiled by various countries using divergent methods for selected points of time.
The Statistics Division develops methods, standards and techniques for creating internationally comparable geo-referenced statistical data on land use by taking into account data collected by member nation.
FAO remains the lead agency providing national land use statistics and provides the most comprehensive on-line overview of crop characteristics, ecology and management. The Environment and Natural Resources Service (SDRN) holds the ARTEMIS satellite-based environmental and agrometeorological databases and analysis tools and assures the documentation (metadata) and distribution of FAO's spatial information through the GeoNetwork.

In addition, FAO has developed a number of analytical decision support tools for the interpretation and use of these databases :

The Agro-ecological Zoning (AEZ) methodology and related decision support tools allow the analysis of land productivity, crop intensification, food production and sustainability issues.
The Terrestrial Ecosystem Monitoring Sites (TEMS) metadatabase, is a geo-referenced registry of sites around the world that are engaged in making long measurements of environmental conditions and trends. At present, there are ca. 1,000 sites Each with information on 120 variables related to the study of land, freshwater, biodiversity and climate change.
ProMIS (Programme Mangement Information System) a field initiative is designed to provide an integrated information management capacity to the UN, NGO and donor community opertaing in Afghanistan. Since its inception ProMIS has grown from a map-making facility to an information resource providing resources for recording, analysing, and distributing data and information among the aid community. These databases and tools are vital for the production of applications such as FIVIMS and GIEWS and underpin major perspective studies such as the Agriculture Towards 2015/30 study.

WAICENT provides gateways on the web to make information easily accessible available to outside users and is developing corporate tools and standards to enhance its presentation.

Given the wide range and varied subjects of the spatial information concerned, there is a growing awareness that the development of the various databases should be better coordinated, in order to assure the availability and compatibility among the in-house users and enhancing the corporate standards for outside distribution.

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