Natural Resources Canada

Natural Resources Canada

January 31, 2007 11:58 ET

Canadian-U.S. Science Pact to Improve Monitoring of Land Cover, Biodiversity and Climate Change

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Jan. 31, 2007) - Natural Resources Canada and the U.S.
Department of the Interior's Geological Survey have launched a high-tech
satellite mapping initiative that can better monitor changes in the combined
land cover of two of the world's largest nations.
Using infrared, radar relief and other remote-sensing techniques, the
partnership will produce integrated information that will help natural
resources managers better assess the health of landscapes, cross-border
wildland fire risks, changes in biodiversity and the effects of climate change
on permafrost. This improved data will enable managers to develop more
effective land-management policies.
"This agreement reflects a lengthy history of joint research and mutual
collaboration between our two countries," said the Honourable Gary Lunn,
Canada's Minister of Natural Resources. "Working together, this partnership
will allow us to share information and maximize our scientific knowledge so
that we can better monitor the changes of our land, including the permafrost
areas in the North."
"Natural processes like wildland fires do not stop at the border, so this
type of information is critical for identifying land-cover trends," said U.S.
Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne. "This new international partnership
will build on the expertise of both the Canadian and U.S. science agencies and
lead to a more comprehensive and standardized monitoring of North America's
land cover."
Land cover is the product of both natural processes and human influences.
Land-cover information is essential for a wide variety of issues, such as
assessing ecosystem status and health; understanding spatial patterns of
biodiversity; land-use planning; and developing land-management policy. Human
modification of land cover has important implications for environmental
quality and natural resources availability, quality and use.
The agreement involves a dynamic land-cover monitoring system for all of
North America and the development of permafrost modelling applications. There
are also future projects planned for longer-term collaboration on the
development of radar applications.
The land-cover mapping initiative will be useful to both countries, for
the tri-national (including Mexico) Commission for Environmental Cooperation
and for international initiatives jointly undertaken by members of the Group
on Earth Observations (GEO). One of many examples of how unified North
American land-cover mapping may be used is in monitoring wildfire risk across
national borders.
Collaborative efforts in the development of permafrost applications will
focus first on mapping the Yukon River basin. A key application in joint
permafrost mapping will be assessing the impacts of climate change on human
settlements, physical infrastructure and ecosystems in both countries.
The U.S. Geological Survey serves the U.S. by providing reliable
scientific information and Earth observations to describe and understand the
Earth; minimize loss of life and property from natural disasters; manage
water, biological, energy and mineral resources; and enhance and protect our
quality of life. Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) plays a pivotal role in
helping shape the important contributions of the natural resources sector to
the Canadian economy, society and environment.


Natural Resources Canada and the U.S. Geological Survey have announced a
high-tech satellite mapping partnership. The mapping system will generate
data on the permafrost, track wildland fires and assess changes in forest

NRCan's news releases and backgrounders are available at

Contact Information

  • Kathleen Olson,
    Acting Director of Communications,
    Office of the Minister,
    Natural Resources Canada, Ottawa,
    (613) 996-2007;

    Media Relations: Natural Resources Canada, Ottawa,
    (613) 992-4447;

    Shane Wolfe,
    U.S. Department of the Interior's Geological Survey, (202) 208-6416;

    Karen Wood,
    U.S. Department of the Interior's Geological Survey, (703) 648-4447