Cape Town - The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (Nasa) aircraft are currently circling the Western Cape to collect satellite and airborne data with field observations and imaging spectroscopy to better understand the biodiversity of the Greater Cape Floristic Region (GCFR) and nature’s contributions to people.
This biodiversity research project, known as BioSCape, was launched in October by Nasa and the National Research Foundation (NRF) in collaboration with the University of Cape Town.
The BioSCape domain covers two global biodiversity hot spots, with the richest temperate flora and the third-highest marine endemism in the world. BioSCape will help scientists understand where biodiversity is, what it is doing, and why it matters. This information will be used to address the information and decision-support needs of stakeholders in the region and internationally.
BioScape will benefit the world by improving our understanding of biodiversity and developing new technologies for monitoring and managing nature’s contributions to people. It will also help better understand the impacts of climate change on biodiversity.
According to Dr Jasper Slingsby, South African lead scientist and lecturer at the University of Cape Town, BioSCape is a unique and exciting project that will help reveal new insights about the biodiversity of one of the most diverse regions on Earth and provide new tools for mapping and monitoring it.
“This information will be essential for supporting effective biodiversity conservation and management strategies for the region. BioScape will also benefit the world by improving our understanding of biodiversity and facilitating the development of new technologies to monitor and manage nature’s contributions to people, as well as helping us better understand the impacts of climate change on biodiversity,” said Dr Slingsby.
NRF, through its South African Environmental Observation Network (NRF-SAEON) business unit, said it is proud to be a leading partner in BioSCape.
Dr Mary-Jane Bopape, NRF-SAEON managing director, said this cutting-edge project was testament to the world-class biodiversity research that is being conducted in South Africa.
“We are committed to contributing to the collection of data and using the information generated by BioSCape to inform environmental management decisions in the region,” said Bopape.
The project, initiated in 2021, will run until 2024, with the majority of data collection occurring from mid-October to mid-December 2023 to coincide with the aerial surveys conducted by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) aircraft and instrument teams.