More than 250 participants will gather in Nairobi next week for the United Nations/Kenya Conference on Space Technology and Applications for Wildlife Management and Protecting Biodiversity. This conference is an initiative of the Vienna-based United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), which has organized it in conjunction with the Government of the Republic of Kenya.
Pressures from climate change, ecosystem loss and wildlife crime are threatening biodiversity and wildlife around the globe. In response to this a wide range of applications, initiatives and projects have been developed that use space-based technologies – such as imagery collected by Earth Observation satellites and satellite-derived geospatial data, satellite-communications and global navigation satellite systems – to monitor, assess and manage biodiversity and ecosystems in support of sustainable environmental development. Many of these applications or initiatives are not fully known to users, but can be better promoted through dedicated awareness-raising efforts such as this conference.
This event will therefore bring together actors from around the world involved in biodiversity and wildlife management, including representatives of space industry, governmental and non-governmental organizations, technology experts, national park authorities and rangers, and wildlife managers, to share their experiences and requirements, build cooperation and develop recommendations.
The programme consists of keynote and expert talks, panel discussions and poster presentations. The results of this conference will feed into UNOOSA’s preparatory process for UNISPACE+50, a special segment of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space in 2018 to mark the 50th anniversary of the first United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.
The conference is co-hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and co-sponsored by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the European Space Agency (ESA).
· European Space Agency (ESA)
· Collecte Localisation Satellites (CLS)
· Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora Secretariat (CITES)
· Group on Earth Observations (GEO)
· Japan National Institute for Environmental Studies
· Kenya Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources
· Kenya Wildlife Services
· Lusaka Agreement Task Force
· Max Planck Institute for Ornithology
· Remote Sensing Technology Center of Japan
· TRAFFIC (Wildlife trade monitoring network)
· United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA)
· United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP)
· United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)
· World Wildlife Fund
Story suggestions for interested media:
We have identified a number of interesting stories about space technology, including the role it can play in managing wildlife and protecting biodiversity. If any of the following stories interest you and you would like to arrange interviews with experts who can speak about these topics, please contact the UNEP press officer below.
1. In 2015 world leaders adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The role that space can play as tool for achieving these SDGs is broad and diverse – and perhaps even surprising.
2. Icarus Initiative: Small sensors (one to five gram in weight) attached to animals, such as birds and possibly even large insects, will allow scientists to track the animals and reveal more about the spread of disease, help predict natural disasters and give a greater understanding of the impact of climate change on animals. The insect-size sensors are still in development. Next year, hardware will be installed on the International Space Station that will pick up the signals from the animal tracking transmitters.
3. Technological advancements in animal sensors can tell when an elephant is about to be poached by detecting when the animal behaves unusually, giving law enforcement time to act. This can also improve understanding of animal behaviour in general.
4. High resolution radar satellites can help to combat wildlife crime by helping to detect vehicles and other equipment as they move under forest cover, or during the night. This can also help detect unusual human presence in national parks and could allow anti-poaching units to identify, locate and ultimately arrest possible poachers. High resolution radar satellites can also collect images over cloud covered regions, unlike other optical Earth Observation satellites – another major advantage in monitoring and tracking.
5. Hyperspectral satellites can provide data that can be used to look at crop health in remote locations. Monitoring crops for potential diseases can have various advantages, and such hyperspectral satellites could also be used to identify crop types and crop growth stages, the extent of logging and deforestation, and the availability of water,. They can also be used to accurately monitor biodiversity in general.