Geospatial information for sustainable food systems

New developments for FAO’s Geospatial Unit

This month FAO welcomed the new Head of the Geospatial Unit, Douglas Muchoney and launched this new website: ‘Geospatial information for sustainable food systems’. Both come at an opportune moment as FAO expands its work to implement appropriate geospatial solutions that support development planning and decision-making processes.

Drought, floods, poor farming techniques and other threats have plagued the agriculture sectors for centuries. Geospatial technology now plays a fundamental role in supporting sustainable and climate resilient agricultural practices to ensure food security.

“Improvements in today’s geospatial technology mean that countries are better able to build resilient agricultural systems with the multiple maps and datasets created using the technology. This information can show very precisely how the earth has been affected by natural and climate-related disasters as well as human activities over time” explained the new Head.

A scientist and an early advocate of the importance of satellite data in forest monitoring, Dr Muchoney led the SilvaCarbon programme that is now the U.S contribution to the Global Forest Observations Initiative (GFOI). FAO works with both these projects on capacity development and satellite data provision and Dr Muchoney played an instrumental role in securing these partnerships before becoming Chief of Forestry Policy and Resources in FAO’sForestry Division. They also support national Measurement, Reporting, Verification (MRV) and REDD+ programmes.

Sustainable Forestry Management is just one of the issues presented on the Geospatial Unit’s new website. It also describes ongoing and past projects across several continents, all of which refer to the impacts of climate change. The sites’ regular news articles provide updates on the work of the FAO Geospatial Unit and their international and intergovernmental partnerships. These include the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) and the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) where the new Head of FAO’s Geospatial Unit worked for several years.

The new website's latest events list new initiatives and projects, upcoming trainings and workshops.  The resources section refers to different data portals, a range of publicly available tools used and publications that give in-depth details of the projects and their results. Through the site it is also possible to access an e-learning course on ‘Hyper-temporal remote sensing to support agricultural monitoring’. Released last year, the course presents an approach for improved mapping.

“This website gives credit to the work of the team, it’s a space to share the results of activities now and in the future, inspiring others to tap into geospatial technology. FAO continues to provide the support countries need to utilise the different tools and methods” explained Muchoney with enthusiasm at the launch of the site

To be updated about FAO’s work on ‘Geospatial information for sustainable food systems’ visit this website and feel free to contact the Geospatial team for further information: [email protected]