Establishing the environmental baseline: This project will provide each country with land cover and land use mapping related to specific environmental hotspots and hope spots building on all existing information for each country with 30 years of time series data in order to show changes from former Soviet Union times through the transition years up until the current time. The following activities will be included in consultation with the countries to address priority issues:
• Obtain satellite data from State Space Corporation ROSCOSMOS (average 30 years’ time series).
• Obtain existing maps, land cadastres, population maps (national or international), aerial photos, topographic or vegetation maps, hydrological basins, agricultural census, statistics, local knowledge and historical data as relevant.
• Review existing international land cover mapping products (i.e. FAO, CORRINE Land Cover, ESA products and others) and compare and compliment national sources of information in order to refine and improve the mapping information base and train national stakeholders on application of these products.
• Building on existing data on key biodiversity areas, specifically map biodiversity hotspots, important habitats and species and boundaries (high endemism, presence of IUCN lists species, migratory bottlenecks).
• Building on existing information use remote sensing to identify pressures on hydrological systems and land degradation.
• Undertake ground truthing/ verification to validate remote sensing data and improve spatial definition for important species using GPS and/ or mobile phone applications.