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Strategic Planning Document -
Environment and Natural Resources
$4M Saved in Data Processing
Interagency coordination and federal and university collaboration have led to the development of an interagency
memorandum of understanding to formalize the Multi-Resolution Land Characteristics (MRLC) Consortium. This effort
establishes the basis for the joint acquisition and processing of Landsat Thematic Mapper imagery for the coterminous
U.S. and sets the stage for implementation of joint research activities and the development of a flexible and
functional land characteristics data base. This joint effort has already saved the government $4 million in satellite imagery
costs and is expected to result in a savings of some $26 million in indirect costs related to satellite data processing and data
Satellites Link Land Use, Productivity
Since the early 1970s, increasingly sophisticated satellites, beginning with Landsat, have provided an invaluable
record of land-use changes. Around the globe, major forested areas are being cut to provide land for agricultural use (even in
regions where soil fertility is low and water resources are meager) reducing water quality and fish habitat, losing buffer zones for
floods, inducing erosion and loss of soil productivity, and reducing the diversity of plants and animals that form the base for
agriculture and biotechnology. In addition to such direct effects are indirect effects that include altering global biogeochemical
cycles, the local climate, and wildlife habitats. Such changes also allow the invasion of new, and often destructive, species.
Over the past decade researchers have documented destruction of tropical rain forests and the burning of grasslands, the
shifting edge of the world's deserts, expansion of urban areas, and areas of flooding and drought. These observations
allow researchers to inventory global ecosystems and natural resources and their changes over time, information vital to
sustaining agricultural and water resource systems.