From the weaving waterways of the Sundarbans to the iconic Great Barrier Reef in Australia, NASA has unveiled stunning satellite images of Earth’s last untouched sanctuaries in a new book.
The efforts to conserve parks and protected areas around the world are being aided by Earth observations from space-based sensors operated by NASA and other space agencies as well as commercial providers.
The book released recently highlights how the view from space is being used to protect some of the world’s most interesting, changing, and threatened places, NASA said.
“Sanctuary: Exploring the World’s Protected Areas from Space,” published by the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (Arlington, Virginia) with support from NASA, debuted at the 2014 World Parks Congress in Sydney, Australia.
Uniting satellite imagery with nature photography, descriptions of conservation projects, and comments from park leaders and conservationists, “Sanctuary” illustrates the contributions remote sensing is making to reaching conservation goals, responding to climate change, and improving human health and well-being.
“NASA and numerous other space agency partners from around the globe have used this view from space to make incredible scientific advances in our understanding of how our planet works,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden wrote in the book’s foreword.
“As a result, we can now better gauge the impact of human activity on our environment and measure how and why our atmosphere, oceans, and land are changing,” wrote Bolden.
“As a former astronaut who has looked upon our beautiful planet from space, I hope that we can advance the use of space-based remote sensing and other geospatial tools to study, understand, and improve the management of the world’s parks and protected areas as well as the precious biodiversity that thrives within their borders,” he wrote.
There are about 209,000 protected areas worldwide, covering 14 per cent of the planet’s land and 11 per cent of coastal areas, as well as 3.6 per cent of the world’s oceans.
Protected areas featured in “Sanctuary” include Hawaii’s Papaphanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, New Zealand’s Mount Egmont National Park, the weaving waterways of the Sundarbans in Bangladesh, and the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
One type of conservation effort highlighted in the book is the growing trend of connecting areas to protect migrating species such as the pronghorn, which migrates the longest distance of any terrestrial animal in the US: more than 350 miles.