Introduction to HELM

The land surface is a decisive factor regarding the state of the environment and human well-being. To manage it well, regularly obtained up do date information on land use and land cover is needed. Land monitoring provides this information through thematic maps based on the interpretation of areal photography, satellite imagery and further sources. These maps aid spatial planning, nature protection, agricultural policy, forestry, water catchment area management etc.

 

In spite of its importance, land monitoring in Europe is quite inefficient owing to lacking coordination between the national, sub-national, and European levels. Efforts are duplicated and given opportunities for mutual support are not utilised which means a substantial waste of resources.

 

HELM is a network of authorities concerned with land monitoring across Europe. It will initiate a move to increase the maturity of European land monitoring along five sequential steps: (1) mutual interest in achieving reciprocal knowledge, (2) shared visions and planning for the future, (3) joint activities by taking on tasks collectively, (4) alignment of national systems involving the mutual adaptation of data interpretation methods and of the timing of data gathering, (5) lasting integration and combining data across all administrative levels.

 

HELM envisions a coherent European land monitoring system characterised by high quality data and efficient productivity. This system will combine the broad range of specific expertise and resources of relevant authorities in the member states. Their work will be supported through targeted centrally supplied measures fulfilling common requirements for raw data and data processing.

 

Through a continuous flow of knowledge from the local to the European scale and the other way round, future information needs regarding land use and land cover will be met as an essential basis for managing the land surface in the framework of European sustainable development.