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Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

13 August 2004

Satellite imagery of our landscape's last 30 years now available


Australians can now access satellite imagery for a bird's eye view of changes to Australia's landscape over the past 30 years.

The Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell today launched Australia 1972-2002: A Thirty Year View from Space, a satellite image product tracks and highlights changes to the environment, in particular vegetation cover.

Senator Campbell said that for the first time the amazing collection of images would be available to anyone to use.

"This resource, developed by the Australian Greenhouse Office, can now be downloaded from space onto a home, school or office computer, " he said.

The satellite imagery shows that between our bicentenary in 1988 and 2001, 3.4 million hectares of forested land was cleared across Australia.

Firefighters can use the imagery to plan fire-fighting activities by seeing the areas previously affected by fire and to determine fire frequencies over the past 30 years. It will help firefighters make rapid decisions during forest fires to determine the best area for firebreaks.

Farmers can download this imagery into their tractors or hand held palm pilots.

"A farmer can also use the new technology when standing in a field. He will be able to access satellite pictures of his property and see how it has changed and to help in deciding where he should replant trees," Senator Campbell said.

"By doing this farmers can ensure that precious waterways on their properties are protected and choose how they can create better homes for plants and animals".

Students and the general public can also use the satellite data to observe how their local vegetation has changed over time.

"This product will help teachers, parents and children gain a better understanding of the environment and to see how their actions, for example planting trees, can improve the surrounding country over time," Senator Campbell said.

"This ground-breaking technology, supported by NASA, Geoscience Australia and CSIRO , demonstrates Australia's hi-tech achievements.

"Good decisions rely on good information and this rich digital information technology will help communities make informed decisions about where local and regional action will be most effective."

Betacam vision for TV networks will be available at the launch.

High resolution Landsat Images for use by print media can be downloaded from www.greenhouse.gov.au

Commonwealth of Australia