On behalf of the NASA Land-Cover/Land-Use Change Program – the primary sponsor of the international GOFC-GOLD Program – I’d like to welcome the new Mediterranean Regional Information Network MedRIN to the GOFC-GOLD family of networks. Developed in 1997 under the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS), the Global Observations of Forest Cover initiative was originally intended to test the concept of the Integrated Global Observing System (IGOS) to improve the use of Earth Observation data to address major problems of global concern and to improve coordination of national programs. Additionally, it was directed at improving cooperation between providers and users of Earth Observation data for regional and global applications. Later on, GOFC became one of the Panels of the Global Terrestrial Observing System (GTOS), and was further named GOFC-GOLD to include other landcover dynamics in addition to forest cover change. Traditionally, its sponsors have been such international entities as Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Meteorological Organization (WMO), United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), European Commission Joint Research Center (JRC), European Space Agency (ESA), NASA and other agencies and institutions. The backbone of GOFC-GOLD are its Regional Information Networks (RINs) and Implementation Teams (IT) for Fire, with its office at the University of Maryland (College Park, MD, USA) and for Landcover, with its office at Wageningen University (The Netherlands). There are about a dozen RINs operating over the worlds. The aim of GOFC-GOLD leadership to ensure the functionality of these networks, revitalizing the older and enhancing the newer ones.
Among the GOFC-GOLD networks closest geographically to MedRIN are the recently established network in Caucasus (CaucRin) and the well-established and functional East European network (SCERIN). I strongly recommend that MedRIN leads keep in close contact with those two networks, participate in their meetings and invite CaucRIN and SCERIN leads (and, perhaps, some selected specialists) to MedRIN meetings. This way, network leads could exchange their experiences, lessons-learned to avoid known mistakes, bring in innovative ideas and expertise, and point at data availability. Perhaps, student exchange programs and scientist-to-scientist interactions could be developed. Interactions within and between the networks may lead to joint proposals and peer-reviewed publications. Capacity building within regions is one of the most important goals of the RINs, hence the leads of the new networks should think how the training/capacity building component should be built in. I recommend to use the model that SCERIN uses by having the Trans-Atlantic Training (TAT) sessions (for building capacity in Eastern Europe) adjacent to each SCERIN meeting. As far as I understood, the MAICH center, where the kick-off MedRIN kickoff was held last July, would perfectly fit the role of the training center for MedRIN (with Chariton as POC). After the initial push from NASA or other agencies, it’s important to realize that the networks are expected to develop mechanisms of internal financial support. Sources for funding could sought at national governmental institutions and agencies as well as international, in particular European Union and European Commission entities and programs. Another recommendation that I have for your new network is to rotate the hosting institutions for meetings like it is done for SCERIN (see http://csebr.cz/scerin2018/index.html). Network partners feel ownership rather than being always as guests, while the visibility of the hosting institution increases this way too.
Once more, let me greet you and wish you productive team work and many years of prospering. Go MedRIN!