RAPP Newsletter 5 – March 2017

Header picture_Rangelands Montana

copy-rapp_logo.jpgDear RAPP colleagues,

We are pleased to present our Newsletter #5 of GEOGLAM RAPP (www.geo-rapp.org) to update you on our most recent & upcoming activities!

The online tool called “RAPP Map” (Global Monitoring System) is now officially being launched with new features and improvements! RAPP collaborators are also progressing vegetation cover validation, and the team continues to strengthen its linkages with the space community (CEOS) especially with ESA (European Space Agency) hosting our next RAPP meeting in Frascati.

Other activities have kept us busy:

  • Community of practice: RAPP workshop in Frascati, ISRSE in South Africa (May 2017)
  • Focus on: RAPP Map: updates
  • Vegetation cover anomaly
  • National Pilot sites – Argentina case
  • Validation work – Australia SMARTFARM
  • Communication (incl key events)

Read below for more information!

Community-of-Practice and workshops      

2017 RAPP international workshop in Italy

ESRIN, Frascati, 16-17 May 2017

Last year, we organised our RAPP international workshop in South AfricaWe are pleased to confirm that ESA (European Space Agency) has offered to host the neLogo ESAxt GEOGLAM RAPP workshop in May, at their Earth observation center (ESRIN), the week just after the International Symposium on Remote Sensing of Environment (ISRSE, in South Africa).

For the participants (by invitation only), this will be the opportunity to better define RAPP data requirements and especially discuss about the products derived from the Copernicus program (Sentinels satellites) that the RAPP community could benefit from. The objectives of the meeting are:

  • Collect product requirements for rangeland and pasture monitoring, with particular focus on the use of ESA’s ‘Sentinel’ satellites capabilities:
    • Products: e.g. biomass, rangeland types and condition, pasture quality  
    • Assessment of rangeland carrying capacity  
    • Sensors: Sentinel 1 (S1) S2, S3, Landsat 8 (L8), MODIS, Radarsat, and hyperspectral ones
  • Strengthen the RAPP Community of Practice and reaffirm the community’s involvement,
  • Review progress and development of the Global Monitoring system RAPP Map,
  • Increase transfer of knowledge & technology, and identify future collaborative work,
  • Review the strategic vision for the future (including funding synergies)

Having the workshop organised at ESRIN thanks to ESA’s support will definitely help RAPP reinforce our partnerships with other European partners such as the European Commission, JRC, IIASA, etc.

More information to be circulated soon to the participants !

2017 ISRSE – International Symposium on Remote Sensing of Environment

South Africa (Pretoria), 8-12 May 2017

A few members of our RAPP community will attend the 37th ISRSE and present related work on rangeland monitoring sessions, including:


  • Integration of optical and synthetic aperture radar (SAR) improves herbaceous biomass estimation using Sentinel-1 and 2 in the savanna ecosystem, South Africa – Dr Abel Ramoelo (CSIR)
  • Tailoring Earth Observation To Ranchers For Improved Land Management And Profitability – Dr Peter Scarth (Joint Remote Sensing Research Program, TERN)
  • Laser scanning in savannas and other rangelands for estimating biomass and other vegetation structural parameters – Dr Michael Schaefer (University of New England/CSIRO)


  • An evaluation of Sentinel-2 based LAI and canopy leaf chlorophyll products for agro-ecological applications- Dr Clement Adjorlolo (SANSA)
  • Global monitoring of rangeland and pasture productivity within the GEOGLAM initiative (RAPP) – Dr Juan Guerschman (CSIRO)
  • Developing and testing a rangeland monitoring system with Namibian farmer – Dr Cornelis Van der Waal (Owner Agri-ecological Services)

Check the full ISRSE program as there are many other interesting presentations!

Focus on… the RAPP MAP (map.geo-rapp.org): official launch

We are proud to launch the first open Beta version of the Map. The RAPP Mapgives access to information about the state and condition of global rangelands. It provides time-series data on the vegetation and environmental conditions, allowing national and regional tracking of the resources which sustains livestock production. It has been developed, and is currently hosted, by Data61 with the assistance of IT resources and services from the National Computational Infrastructure (NCI), and the AusCover facility.

This version release includes monthly global vegetation cover and anomalies from 2000 to present at 500 meter resolution and the ability to retrieve time series data of vegetation cover and precipitation for any point or polygon.

Screen capture of the RAPP Map showing Total Vegetation cover in the Namibian rangelands and time series data for that area for 2000-2016.

Screen capture of the RAPP Map showing Total Vegetation cover in the Namibian rangelands and time series data for that area for 2000-2016.

A separate document will be distributed soon (stay tuned!) to explain more in details the interactive Map, and to describe its functionality and planned improvements.

We look forward to getting your feedback to help improve the system and make it more and more useful to researchers and managers of rangelands worldwide.  Your inputs are welcome, so please send your comments today to geoglam.rapp@csiro.au !

*RAPP Map is supported by CSIRO and through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme.

Vegetation Cover Anomaly

The monthly vegetation cover anomaly product can also be viewed on its own, and downloaded here. The latest map of March 2017 has just been published.

Global Vegetation Cover Anomaly - March 2017

Global Vegetation Cover Anomaly – March 2017

The latest one, March 2017, shows improvements (green) in the vegetation cover in Southern Africa (compared to December 2016). However the vegetation cover is lower than average (red) in the east/Horn of Africa, including Somalia and South Sudan, two countries at a very high alert risk for famine (see more information on this FEWS NET article).

National Pilot sites – Argentina case

Native grasslands monitoring network in Argentina’s National Agricultural Technology Institute

Map Argentina validation work_Newsletter5

Network of field sites from INTA (Argentina)

In 2006, Argentina’s National Agricultural Technology Institute (INTA) implemented a national network of sites for forage monitoring of native vegetation. Grassland productivity was analysed from the data collected in 179 sites.

In 101 of the 179 sites grass herbaceous productivity (GHP) was less than 1000 kg ha-1 year-1. The same happened with the woody forage productivity (WHP). The highest GHP values ​​were reported in alluvial plains of Patagonia and the Puna regions, the ñandubay district in Espinal and in riverside plant communities of Entre Ríos.

Argentina field measurements_Newsletter5

Measuring grass productivity in a grazing enclosure (Argentina)

While wetland GHP increased significantly with increasing mean annual temperature and mean annual rainfall, PFH from non-wetland sites increased with only mean annual rainfall. Finally it was observed that historically overgrazed sites had GHP values ​​much lower than those sites subject to more conservative grazing.

These results provide relevant information for livestock forage planning at a regional scale and can also be used for the calibration of forage productivity estimation models based on the use of remote satellite sensors.

Blanco, L.J.; Durante, M.; Ferrante, D.; Quiroga, R.E.; Demaría, M.; Di Bella, C.M.

Validation Work – Australia (Armidale SMART Farm)

Utilization of Canopy Biomass Lidar (CBL) to measure pasture biomass at the UNE SMART Farm

Utilization of Canopy Biomass Lidar (CBL) to measure pasture biomass at the UNE SMART Farm


In February 2017, a small week long field campaign was conducted with the University of New England (UNE) at their SMART Farm. The field work was based around pasture biomass measurement for validation of Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 data products.

The on-ground measurements included destructive biomass sampling, LAI, NDVI, FAPAR (Fraction of Absorbed Photosynthetically Active Radiation) as well as Terrestrial Laser Scanning (TLS). Study sites were established and will continually be monitored throughout the year following a standard sampling protocol co-developed by TERN AusCover and UNE.



Besides regular communications with our key partners, RAPP communicates through the website which is regularly updated with news, events and information on RAPP pilot sites. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter (@geoglamRAPP) as news and products, such as the monthly Vegetation Cover anomaly, are also published there!

NEW RAPP EMAIL CONTACT If you wish to get in touch directly with us, please email us to: geoglam.rapp@csiro.au

Key upcoming events for GEOGLAM RAPP

  • CEOS SIT-32, 25-27 April 2017 in Paris, France
  • ISRSE, 8-12 May 2017 in Pretoria, South Africa
  • RAPP international workshop, 16-17 May 2017, in Frascati, Italy
  • and more!  (Feel free to inform us if you are aware of relevant meetings)

Thank you all for your contributions and we look forward to meeting some of you in Frascati!

ESA ESRIN photo_Newsletter5

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