SWOS Newsletter #2 : ‘Improving Wetlands Monitoring & Assessment’

SWOS Newsletter 

Issue no.2, February 2017

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In this issue

SWOS Project Overview

SWOS is a Horizon 2020 project funded by the European Commission to assist wetland practitioners (managers, policy-makers, scientists) with wetland monitoring and with reporting obligations for environmental policies at different scales. The project started officially on June 1st, 2015 for a period of three years. SWOS is a collaboration between 7 European countries: Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Netherlands, Spain and Sweden.

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SWOS Products and Mapping Components

SWOS will deliver mapping products and indicators derived from Earth Observation data. Six main products will be prepared for service demonstration in sites covering more than 19 countries in 3 continents. The main targeted products are Inventory and Delineation, Water Quality (status and trends), Land Use/Land Cover Mapping and changes, Land Surface Temperature change, Soil moisture and Surface Water Dynamics. Some examples of applications can be viewed online:

  • Monitoring of long term changes of the Dead Sea water table;
  • Monitoring of short term changes of wetland characteristics at Azraq Oasis in Jordan;
  • Daily large scale monitoring of NDVI-greenness in Greece; and
  • Monitoring of changes in mean chlorophyll concentration in the Camargue region in France.

For further information, please check SWOS website.

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Earth Observation Synergies in joint SWOS – ECOPOTENTIAL Meeting at the Mediterranean Wetland Observatory Tour du Valat

A joint meeting of the H2020 projects SWOS and ECOPOTENTIAL was held at the Mediterranean Wetland Observatory Tour Du Valat from 16 – 20 January 2017. Both projects foster the use of Earth observation data for ecosystem assessment and monitoring. While ECOPOTENTIAL follows a broader approach on the monitoring of ecosystems and protected areas SWOS focusses on the establishment of satellite-based services for wetland monitoring. Both projects have a user-driven approach in common. During the workshop both projects were presented to the EU officer and project reviewers followed by discussions on key topics of the projects such as sharing common methods and tools and integrating common aspects of both projects within specific work areas. The fruitful discussions leaded in the definition of several collaboration activities.

Further information is available on SWOS website.

How does the SWOS project improve the capabilities for global wetland monitoring and assessment?
Although the SWOS project doesn’t directly develop any global wetland maps, it will make major contributions to the improvement of global mapping, monitoring and assessment of these important ecosystems and their services by:
  1. Developing a sustainable and operational standardized monitoring service for wetland ecosystems based on Earth Observation (EO) satellites.
  2. Providing a unique entry point for the project users to easily locate, access and connect wetland information through a geoportal.
  3. Using the new possibilities offered by the EU Copernicus Sentinel satellites and further develop the approaches of the European Space Agency’s GlobWetland initiative.
  4. Provision of an innovative service to four target audiences including global conventions and initiatives, local users, policy frameworks, donors and funders.
For more information, check SWOS website.

Agreement with Sebou river basin authority on study cases
The Sebou River basin is one of the largest river basins in Morocco covering about 40 000 km2 (6% of national territory), 6 million inhabitants, 25% of the national groundwater reserve and 30% of the national surface water. Oued Sebou is the main permanent river of the country but also the most polluted one. The first exchanges with the ABH Sebou and local stakeholders (Ministry of Agriculture, High Commissariat for Water and Forests and Desertification) in Fes, allowed identifying priority areas where SWOS products could provide valuable inputs to support for flood risk management, identification of and monitoring pressures on water resources using Land Use Land Cover maps (reference and change maps); inventory and delineation of wetlands and monitoring vegetal coverage around water reservoirs to assess silting risk. Further information is available on SWOS website.

Remote Sensing and institutional cooperation for the wise use of wetlands in Kilombero, Tanzani

The SWOS project is collaborating with the Belgian Development Agency (BTC) in assisting Tanzanian officials to implement a framework for sustainable wetland management in the Kilombero valley under the project KILORWEMP (Kilombero and Lower Rufiji Wetland and Ecosystem Management Project).

The Kilombero wetland is also a pilot-site of SWOS, and its land use/land cover maps and surface water dynamic models have been shared with BTC.  Further information is available on SWOS website.

Example of a Land-use land-cover map of the kilombero floodplain for the year 2016 based on Sentinel-2 imagery. ©SWOS

GEO-Wetlands initiative approved for GEO Work Programme 2017-2019 
The GEO-Wetlands Initiative has been officially approved by the GEO-XIII Plenary taking place in St. Petersburg, Russia. A diverse, global community consisting of partners from different projects, organizations and institutions has, over the past year, been preparing a first implementation plan for GEO-Wetlands, coordinated by the University of Bonn, the Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and Wetlands International. Further information is available on SWOS website.

SWOS project at UNFCCC COP 22 in Marrakech

The 22nd Session of the Conference of Parties (COP22) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was hosted in Bab Ighli, Marrakech from 7 November 2016 – 18 November 2016. COP22 was built on last year’s Conference of Parties in Paris (COP21), focusing on action to achieve the commitments of the landmark Paris Agreement on Climate Change. A presentation on the SWOS project was given at a COP22 side event entitled ‘Wetlands and Peat – Understanding the Potential’ on November 12th  joined by SWOS project partners Jena-Optronik GmbH, Unité Technique du SEMIDE and Tour du Valat/Mediterranean Wetlands Observatory. Further information is available on SWOS website.

SWOS service case for Greek Ramsar sites
The Greek Biotope Wetland Centre (EKBY), one of the user partners in the SWOS partnership, under the request of the Department of Protected Areas and Biodiversity of the Greek Ministry for Environment and Energy, is implementing a SWOS service case dedicated to serve the national reporting requirements of the Ramsar Convention. The provision of a suitable map or maps is a requirement under Article 2.1 of the Convention as part of the information supplied in the Information Sheet on Ramsar Wetlands (RIS). Further information is available on SWOS website.


Highlighting the importance of wetlands and satellite-based information at the IUCN World Conservation Congress 2016
Held every four years, the IUCN World Conservation Congress is the world’s largest and most democratic conservation forum. The IUCN Congress took place in Hawai’i in early September and over the course of ten days, Members discuss and vote on key conservation and environment issues as well as elect leaders. “Planet at a Crossroads” – the theme of this year’s IUCN Congress, brought together top professionals from all regions and expertise to share knowledge on how our natural environment should be managed for the continued well-being of humanity and all life on Earth. With over 10,000 participants from 192 countries, this year marked the largest Congress to date. Further information is available on SWOS website.

SWOS portal attracts attention of stakeholders at European Ecosystem Services Conference

SWOS project was presented at the European Ecosystem Services Conference taking place 19-23 September 2016 in Antwerp. The SWOS partners University of Malaga, University of Jena, Remote Sensing Solutions (RSS) and Jena Optronik participated in the event with the aim of actively promoting the broad activities of the project, such as the Beta version of the SWOS portal and its functionalities, which attracted many stakeholders. The SWOS portal is the entry point to easily locate, access, process and connect wetland information. Further information is available on SWOS website.

Paper published: Short-Term Change Detection in Wetlands Using Sentinel-1 Time Series

In the paper published in September 2016 by Javier Muro et al. the potential of integrating Sentinel-1 time series for monitoring wetland dynamics has been analysed in the Spanish mapping site.

Download the Paper here: Short-Term Change Detection in Wetlands Using Sentinel-1 Time Series

Upcoming Events
  • WorldCover 2017 Conference, March 14-16th 2017, Frascati, Italy (link)
  • The ISRSE-37, May 8-12th 2017, Tshwane -South Africa (link)
  • 11th GEO European Projects Workshop GEPW-11, June 19-21st 2017, Helsinki, Finland (link)
  • United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) COP 13, September 4-15th 2017, Ordos, Inner Mongolia – China (link)
  • Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) COP 12, October 23-28th 2017, Manila- the Philippines (link)
  • GEO-XIV Plenary, Washington DC, October 2017.

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“This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 642088. The contents of this newsletter are the sole responsibility of SWOS Consortium and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.”