A pilot project using space technology to monitor the gorilla habitat in
Central/East Africa is being presented today by the European Space Agency
(ESA) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organization (UNESCO).

At the 52nd International Astronautical Congress, in Toulouse, France, ESA
and UNESCO are presenting their new initiative on the monitoring of World
Heritage sites using space technology, mainly Earth observation satellites.

Through this joint initiative, UNESCO aims to expand the sources of data
that contribute to an integrated World Heritage database, assisting the
countries involved (State Parties in UN parlance) in improving the
monitoring of World Heritage sites. The intention is to create a new
remote-sensing unit inside the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, as well as a
virtual network of co-operating entities, and to increase the capabilities
in the areas of remote sensing and monitoring within State Parties, mainly
in developing countries, will be enhanced. To this end UNESCO and ESA have
agreed to establish an initial framework of cooperation open to other
space agencies and operators in the space field, and to start a pilot
phase on a specific World Heritage site.

To this end UNESCO and ESA have agreed to establish an initial framework
of cooperation open to other space agencies and operators in the space
field, and to start a pilot phase on a specific World Heritage site.

This pilot project consists of a joint effort by UNESCO and ESA to monitor
the gorilla habitat in Central/East Africa. The aims are:

* To test and select which space technologies are most appropriate for
monitoring purposes

* To demonstrate to both UNESCO Member States and the international
community the feasibility of using advanced tools

* To define the most adequate institutional and technical framework —
such as the needs in human and project resources and the roles of the
different partners.

The pilot project is likely to be expanded to cover selected World Heritage
sites — both natural and cultural heritage sites.

During the IAC meeting, the pilot project and the opportunities for further
expansion were presented, to encourage discussion and to extend the
invitation to other space agencies and operators to join in this important

1972 World Heritage Convention

At the 16th session of the UNESCO General Conference in November 1972, a
number of countries committed to the conservation of those sites in the
world that are of outstanding universal value, from the point of view of
culture, history, science, conservation or natural beauty, joined forces
to adopt the World Heritage Convention. Today, the Convention,
administered by UNESCO, is a success. 164 so-called State Parties are
Parties to the Convention. These State Parties get together at least twice
a year during meetings of the Bureau and the Committee to approve new
inscriptions of sites, to review the state of conservation of the inscribed
sites and to agree upon various other actions dedicated to the conservation
of the 690 World Heritage sites.

1972, the year when the World Heritage Convention was adopted by UNESCO,
was also the year when remote sensing from civilian Earth observation
satellites started on a routine basis. As we approach the thirtieth
anniversary of these two global phenomena in the year 2002, more and more
countries and organisations are keen to forge a close relationship between
global communities of World Heritage conservationists and remote sensing

To foster this objective, UNESCO and ESA have agreed to undertake a joint
initiative demonstrating the application of Earth observation and other
space technologies (e.g. navigation and positioning, communication) in
support of the goals of the World Heritage Convention, and to establish a
framework of co-operation, open to space agencies and other organisations.

For further information:

ESA Media Relations

Franco Bonacina

Tel: +33 1 5369 7155

E-mail: Franco.Bonacina@esa.int

Luigi Fusco, ESA/ESRIN

Tel: +39 06 94180530

E-mail: Luigi.Fusco@esa.int

Related links





* World Heritage List in Danger


* Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund



[Image 1:
Gorilla. Photo: Courtesy Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund

[Image 2:
Virunga volcanoes. Photo: Courtesy of International Gorilla Conservation
Program (IGCP) a coalition of AWF,WWF,and FFI.