Home Contact     

Group on Earth Observation (GEO)

The World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in 2002 emphasized that earth observations need to be improved. This led to the establishment of the Group on Earth observations (GEO). After three earth observations summits, international agreement on a 10-year implementation plan for a Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) was reached by GEO member countries in February 2005, in Brussels.

The GEO secretariat was established at the WMO in Geneva and has asked members of the international EO community to get involved in implementing GEOSS with focus on nine areas of societal benefit. The Project Office has coordinated and prepared the GOFC-GOLD response to GEO for the implementation of the GEOSS Work Plan 2006. GOFC-GOLD has prepared contributions for a number work packages based on the 2 year targets defined by the GEO Secretariat. The following societal benefit areas of GEOSS have been addressed: Agriculture, Disasters, Ecosystems, Climate, Capacity building, and Weather. The PO ensures that GLOBCOVER and related activities are recognized in the GEO activities.

In November 2007, the GEO Ministerial Summit took place in Cape Town, South Africa. This summit was a two year review of GEO activities in the GEO 10-year work plan. On this occasion, GEO presented its publication "The full picture" summarizing recent progress and Early Achievements of the various GEO activites in the different societal benefit areas. In the Ecosystem Section of this document, the LC-IT reports about Global Land Cover Observations.

GOFC-GOLD has taken lead roles in the implementation of several GEO tasks as specified in the updated GEO 2009-2011 Work Plan. Of particular importance to the LC-IT are the following tasks:

Global Land Cover
(former DA-07-02)

Provide a suite of global land cover datasets, initially based on improved and validated moderate resolution land cover maps and eventually including land-cover change at high resolution. This activity will benefit directly from the establishment of the Land Surface Imaging virtual constellation (see AR-09-02a).


This task is co-lead with the US (USGS) and CEOS and is directly linked with GOFC-GOLD participation in GlobCover and the harmonization/ validation initiative trying to evolve and implement the production of a global high resolution land cover change dataset.

The task has been presented as one of the GEO Early Achievements to the GEO Ministerial Summit in November 20007. The description of the Early Achievement emphasizes the progress of different activities toward improved global land cover observations.

Communities of Practice and Partnership Development
(former US-06-02)

Develop GEO Communities of Practice to identify and refine user needs, in particular for cross-cutting areas – building upon GEO’s initial experience of Communities of Practice, information provided by national, regional and project-level surveys, and the extensive work of the Integrated Global Observing Strategy Partnership (IGOS-P), now transitioned into GEO.


GOFC-GOLD is co-leading this task with Canada and Sweden. The Community of Practice for Forest Observations (CoP) has been established and recognized by the GEO User Interface Community.

Forest Mapping and Change Monitoring
(former AG-06-04)

Integrate international efforts on assessment and monitoring of forests and forest changes using a combination of ground and satellite information and internationally agreed standards. Make relevant synergies with CL-09-03b (Forest Carbon Tracking) and DI-09-03b (Implementation of a Fire Warning System at Global Level).


This sub-task is a close cooperation with FAO and to support the Forest Resources Assessment 2010.