Land Monitoring

Satellites protect wetland areas

18 July 2012

Wetlands are havens of biodiversity, and have important ecological, hydrological and economic value, but their misuse can have devastating consequences. Satellite data are being used for wetland conservation and management.

In the arid desert of central-eastern Jordan, the Azraq oasis is the only permanent source of fresh water for about 12,000 sq km, and provides drinking water for about a quarter of the country's capital and largest city, Amman.

Historically, the water source made Azraq a major desert route, facilitating trade in the region. It is also an important station for migratory birds on the African-Eurasian flyway.

But excessive pumping of water from the oasis and illegal drilling of wells for agricultural purposes have caused water levels to drop steadily over the past 50 years - depleting water from the wetland area.

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