David E.

Steitz Headquarters, Washington, DC (Phone: 202/358-1730) RELEASE: 01-119

June 12, 2001

NASA PROVIDES DETAILED MOSAIC TO CENTRAL AMERICA In 1998, NASA and the Central American Commission on the Environment and Development (CCAD) signed a Memorandum of Understanding for cooperation in support of CCAD's development of a Mesoamerican Biological Corridor. As part of this cooperation, using satellite data, NASA is developing land-use maps of Central America for use by CCAD. A major milestone in this cooperation was met today when NASA Associate Administrator for Earth Science Dr. Ghassem Asrar traveled to Central America to present the NASA-created radar mosaic of Central America to Ministers from the Central American countries participating in CCAD. The mosiac utilized radar images collected by the Japanese Earth Resources Satellite (JERS-1). The JERS-1 satellite was equipped with a Synthetic Aperture Radar sensor at L-band frequency that was able to image any part of the earth's surface regardless of cloud cover and sun illumination, frequent land imaging obstacles in the wetter regions of Central America. This capability provides continental-scale high resolution data acquired in a short time to be used for a variety of applications such as coastal studies, mapping and monitoring wetlands, and assessment of deforestation and reforestation in tropical regions. "This NASA-sponsored effort directly supports the expanded accord signed on June 7 by the U.S. Secretary of State and Central American Foreign Ministers in Washington," Asrar said. "Our partnership with these governments has been a great success over the past two years, and as we begin to see the fruition of our work, we now move on to the next phase, providing these nations with a baseline map that will be a foundation for future research." NASA centers, as well as NASA-funded investigators and Central American researchers, are using satellite data to develop maps classifying the land cover of the Central

American isthmus according to life zones, land-use types, geological structure, hydrology and other Earth Science factors. NASA also will continue to support the development of the CCAD's environmental data and information system by providing optical, radar and topographic remote-sensing data to the CCAD. The agreement has initiated a partnership between NASA and the countries of Central America and demonstrates the utility of NASA Earth Science data and information for both biodiversity conservation and sustainable-development planning. The membership of the CCAD consists of the Governments of Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama, which have all agreed to work together within the CCAD framework to promote the sustainable development of the entire Central American region. In 1997, the presidents of the seven Central American countries endorsed the concept of a Mesoamerican Biological Corridor, running throughout the Central American isthmus with the goal of integrating conservation and the sustainable use of the region's biodiversity into a framework for longterm economic development. -end-