Remotely monitoring the internationally important Bacalar Corridor

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The beautiful and complex ecosystem of Laguna Bacalar, made of crystalline waters, tick vegetation (especially mangroves) and increasing touristic activities. Credit: Mel FigueroaA new remote satellite monitoring programme, powered by UK technology and expertise has been launched to help conserve a unique, fragile ecological corridor in the Caribbean. 

A new remote satellite monitoring programme, powered by UK technology and expertise has been launched to help conserve a unique, fragile ecological corridor in the Caribbean.

Laguna Bacalar in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo is a 42km long lake renowned for its unique white limestone bottom and clear freshwaters. The wetland between the Laguna and the Chetumal bay, called the Bacalar corridor, is rated as the highest at-risk conservation area in the Caribbean ring, in need of immediate intervention to help preserve its important ecosystem.

Surrey Space Centre (SSC) at the University of Surrey will lead the project, funded by the UK Space Agency (UKSA) within the International Partnership Space Programme, that will use data from UK/EU assets and locally sourced environmental information to enable near-real-time monitoring and impact analysis to help support environmental interventions by the Mexican government.

In collaboration with the Mexican Space Agency (AEM) and UKSA, SSC will lead the UK consortium made of Surrey Satellite Technology Limited, Satellite Applications Catapult and Deimos Space UK Limited, to deliver Earth Observation for the UK Climate, Environment and Monitoring from Space (CEMS) platform. This observation will analyse the impact of human activities in the Bacalar corridor, both in terms of conservation and ongoing harmful activities.

“The transverse coastal Corridor in the south-eastern Yucatan Peninsula is a complex system consisting of different ecosystems, while also being a popular tourist destination. This is one of the challenges Mexico faces: protecting the area while ensuring visitors can continue to enjoy it for generations to come,” commented Dr Raffaella Guida, Senior Lecturer in Satellite Remote Sensing at the University of Surrey and PI on the project.

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