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Developing information systems for Earth observation

In addition to its nodes, SAEON also coordinates and sponsors domain-specific data centres such as the Southern African Data Centre for Oceanography (SADCO), and the African Ocean Biodiversity Information System (AfrOBIS).

For online data connectivity, SAEON is involved in the development of an information management system with spatial analytical capability. Users will be able to obtain and integrate data from a variety of data providers via the SAEON Data Portal. SAEON is a proponent for open access to data.

SAEON’s specific role in relation to biodiversity observation is:

  • Earth observation activities through long-term in-situ (ground-based and surface/underwater) systems at spatially distributed sites. This in itself contributes to monitoring and change detection, for which the South African National Biodiversity Institute SANBI holds the national mandate.
  • Data collection and analysis directed at distinguishing between natural drivers responsible for the natural variability of a system and human-induced stressors that may eventually force directional change of a system to an altered state. This understanding is complicated by an already changing climatic regime. Improvement of understanding will assist in forecasting environmental changes, informing adaptation to climate change and informing general environmental policies as expressed via the National Environmental Management Act 

The themes used in the initial phase of the Department of Environment Affairs’ State of the Environment Reporting in 1999 are the same that SAEON’s observation and monitoring activities focus on:

  • atmosphere/climate;
  • terrestrial ecosystems;
  • inland water;
  • coastal and marine ecosystems;
  • biodiversity; and
  • soils.

Similarly, the framework employed by SAEON speaks to the DPSIR (Drivers of Change, Pressure of Change, State of Target Environment, Impact of Change, and Response to Change) Framework adopted by the State of the Environment Reporting Programme.

SAEON, therefore, complements the work of the Directorate of ‘State of the Environment Reporting’ at DEA; and SAEON is in a favourable position to provide data sets that are necessary for compiling State of the Environment Reports.

SAEON is also well-positioned to provide relevant data that could assist the DEA Directorates of Biodiversity Conservation, Resource Use, and Biodiversity Regulation and Monitoring to devise sound and practical policies and guidelines.

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