A Better World - Volume 4

[ ] 18 A B et t er W or ld How can Earth Observation support agriculture development in rural areas? EO4SD – Agriculture and Rural Development cluster Anna Burzykowska, European Space Agency; Almudena Velasco, SpaceTec Partners; Annemarie Klaase, eLEAF; Silvia Huber, DHI GRAS; Paul Geerders, P. Geerders Consultancy; Remco Dost, eLEAF; Arjen Vrielink, Satelligence; Eva Haas, GeoVille; Rolf A. de By, ITC, University of Twente; Evelyn Aparicio, Nelen & Schuurmans L ong-term environmental and land degradation processes represent a major development barrier in many developing countries, especially in rural areas. Concrete evidence on the extent, severity and underlying drivers are not fully understood. This makes it difficult to identify policies and investments that will effectively halt and reverse land degradation such as desertification. However, many of the contributing biophysical factors such as climate, physiology and soil erodibility, as well as anthropogenic causes such as unsustainable land manage- ment related to population pressure, could be monitored using Earth Observation (EO). EO is particularly suited to observe extreme weather conditions, climate variability, deforestation, land use changes, and unsustainable farm management practices such as inappropriate irrigation, cultivation, resource management, and overgrazing. Several initiatives have begun building information systems to measure drivers and impacts of land degradation at local, national and regional levels. These systems help analyze land degradation status and trends. They also play a role in moni- toring improvements and progress towards land degradation neutrality and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). With the launch of the Sentinel satellites of the European Union’s Copernicus Programme, an unprecedented amount of free and open data has become available. To demonstrate the benefits of EO-based information, products, and services, as comprising a significant component of the UN’s SDGs, the European Space Agency (ESA) has worked closely with Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) — such as the World Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development — and their client states to harness these benefits in global activities. Therefore, the cluster dedi- cated to agriculture and rural development of ESA’s Earth Observation for Sustainable Development (EO4SD) initiative is focused on MDBs’ programmes and projects that deal with land degradation, soil erosion, food security and irrigation systems management around the globe. The EO4SD-Agriculture and Rural Development Cluster demonstrates how EO-derived information measurably enhances the effectiveness of the MDBs’ technical assistance interventions and financial investments in the agriculture sector. What makes the EO4SD services exceptional is their integration of thematic layers at various spatial and temporal resolutions and scales. The integration of multiple satellite- based products that consider land use, productivity, climatic and other environmental factors allows for a comprehensive assessment of land degradation and its drivers. The same thematic information is available at several spatial resolu- tions — 250m, 30m and 10m — and at different spatial scales, connecting the regional dimension with national and Information on national croplands for Burkina Faso Burkina Faso is a landlocked sub-Saharan country with limited natural resources. Its agro-ecological conditions are negatively impacted by climatic deterioration and increasing human pressure. EO4SD is providing development programmes in Burkina Faso with up-to-date information that can guide land management decisions to safeguard natural resources. In the image below, croplands in Burkina Faso are highlighted in yellow. EO-derived statistics are produced by the EO4SD-Agriculture and Rural cluster and provided to development projects and programmes for monitoring and reporting progress activities. In the absence of national data, EO can provide near-real time information on croplands and cultivated areas, which is essential for food security. Region Nord Cultivated Source: EOSD Agriculture Cluster (Satelligence, 2017) Non-cultivated: 11,553km 2 Cultivated: 4,845km 2