EARSeL is a scientific network of European remote sensing institutes, coming from both academia and the commercial/industrial sector. The association was founded in 1977 under the auspices of the European Space Agency, the Council of Europe and the European Commission. The main goals of the association are:
- stimulating and promoting education and training related to remote sensing and Earth observation,
- initiating and coordinating application-oriented research,
- forming a bridge between technology and applications of interest to the wide user community,
- assisting the sponsoring agencies [M1] in the development of new sensors and systems and in any technical matters of relevance,
- providing a network of experts for the agencies in Europe,
- carrying out joint research projects on the use of remote sensing for research, monitoring and education,
- promoting co-operation between remote sensing experts and the environmental managers and decision-makers.
To reach these goals the main scientific efforts of EARSeL are concentrated in Special Interest Groups (SIGs). These SIGs form the foundation of the activities of EARSeL and its 'raison d'être'. They encourage co-operation and foster innovative applications of remote sensing. The SIGs organize workshops and specialist meetings, the reports and proceedings of which are published. There currently are 15 active SIG:
1. Coastal zones, 2. Cultural and natural heritage, 3.Developing countries, 4.Education and training, 5. Forest fires, 6. Forestry, 7. Geological applications, 8. Imaging Spectroscopy, 9.Ice land and snow, 10. Land use/land cover, 11. Radar remote sensing, 12. Thermal remote sensing, 13. Urban remote sensing, 14. Unmanned Aircraft Systems and 15. 3D remote sensing.
EARSeL and Belgium
Belgium is an active member of the association since the beginning. Rudy Goossens (University of Gent) was member of the governing body from 2001 to 2005 and chairman of the association from 2005 to 2009. Jean-Christophe Schyns (STEREO programme manager) is Secretary General since 2014. BELSPO is also representing the Belgian members in the Council of the association.
Two workshops were also organized in our country:
- The 5th Imaging Spectroscopy workshop held in Bruges in 2007 and
- The 3rd Advances in Remote Sensing for Archaeology and Cultural Heritage Management organized in Gent in 2012