Japan and China are about embark on an innovative new program using satellite-generated information updated daily to more closely integrate environment policies in Asia, according to the Environment Ministry.

Starting in April, research arms of the two governments will outline specific goals and set to work on the necessary facilities for what will be the most extensive bilateral environmental monitoring project between the countries.

The plan calls for two centers to be established in China in the upcoming fiscal year to receive transmissions of satellite data. One will be located in Beijing and the other in the western city of Urumqi, near where officials say China is facing some of its most severe desertification and other environmental problems.

Japan’s National Institute of Environmental Studies will be responsible for establishing the western facility, while the Chinese Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources Research will oversee construction of the Beijing center.

Used in conjunction with the Beijing facility, a satellite will supply information and images of China, Japan and other Asian countries. Japan will put 600 million yen into the project next year.

Six centers will be tasked with analyzing the satellite’s data — five in China and one in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, run by NIES.

Ministry officials anticipate the project will help link environment policy between the two countries. Specific themes include assessments of desertification, deforestation, erosion, agricultural land and water resources.

The data will also help authorities target hot spots in need of attention, as well as more accurately forecast and evaluate the success or failure of government initiatives, such as gauging progress in repairing damaged ecosystems, the officials said.

The project is a pilot program and, if it proves successful, the government hopes to expand it throughout Asia, the officials said.

The network would create a database for policymakers and stakeholders by providing real-time updates of environmental changes and indicators, officials said.

Work on the two centers to receive satellite transmissions should be completed by around October, and the program could be up and running by the end of this year at the earliest, according to scientists in charge of the project.

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