The SIBELIUs project will produce and distribute new and upgraded pasture products, derived from satellite Earth Observation data, to key stakeholders who are supporting the herding communities.

Pasture plays an important role for Kyrgyzstan’s people and economy. However, currently the country is dealing with severe levels of pasture degradation, both from decreased biomass and from the encroachment of unpalatable vegetation. In addition, climate change is causing altered precipitation patterns, leading to increased aridity and drought, particularly in mountain pastures. These problems are compounded by a lack of key pasture and mapping information, which is required to improve grazing management.

Interviews with herders in the project’s two test sites have confirmed that a lack of information about local pasture conditions is one of the problems they face. They have also verified that degrading pasture conditions and an increase in inedible plants are major concerns in their summer pastures. SIBELIUs aims to address these problems and impact will be measured in terms of: (1) improvement in pasture productivity linked to use and uptake of SIBELIUs satellite derived products by in-country agencies and bodies, (2) improving herders’ resilience, according to locally-developed metrics and as measured by surveys conducted in the test sites.

At the heart of the SIBELIUs infrastructure is a Kyrgyz Data Cube which is an efficient method for storing current and historical satellite data and derived products, so this information can be accessed and queried by staff at the key stakeholder institutions. Output products from the Data Cube will be ingested by desktop applications, web apps and dashboard front ends for stakeholders to utilise further.

Importantly, SIBELIUs is working with herders at two test sites, analysing their information requirements and ensuring their voices and priorities are heard in the project. SIBELIUs is also conducting a series of technology training workshops (currently virtually) to ensure that Kyrgyz stakeholders are best placed to benefit from the new satellite technology.

SIBELIUS is supported by the UK Space Agency’s International Partnership Programme (IPP), funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s Global Challenges Research Fund.