A virtual observatory for ecosystem services and poverty alleviation

Funded by: NERC ESPA
Size: GBP 250 000
Partners: Imperial College, CONDESAN, Universidad Agraria de La Molina, Universiteit Wageningen
Period: 15/11/2010 - 31/09/2012
Coordinators: Wouter Buytaert and Selene Baez


Technologies for environmental observation and modelling are advancing quickly. Integrating such real-time observation and simulation in a web environment is sometimes referred to as a virtual observatory. Many prototypes are currently implemented worldwide.

This project explores whether such technology can be useful in a poverty allevation context. Such settings are typically faced with issues of large predictive uncertainties, limited resources, limited local scientific capacity. Therefore, we try to develop prototypes that allow us to work in a bottom-up, interdisciplinary approach.

Guided by two case studies in the Andes and the Amazon, we are developing techniques and methods for the identification of priority issues and beneficiaries, communication of model simulations, and integrating local knowledge and practice in modelling systems.

Our advances can be explored on this website. All feedback and questions are welcome to Wouter Buytaert