Tribute to Jack Estes
Posted in Gap Analysis Bulletin Boar

Jack Estes, one of the giants of remote sensing, passed away Friday, March 9 in Santa Barbara, after a month-long battle with cancer. Jack has been a driving force in the advancement of remote sensing science, technology, and applied program development worldwide for the past three decades.

In addition to being instrumental in the development of Gap Analysis, he was a major asset to the USGS, the IGBP, NASA, and many similar organizations. He directed the Remote Sensing Research Unit at the University of California Santa Barbara and taught in the department of geography. Of the many books, book chapters, and journal articles he authored, perhaps he will be best remembered for his contribution to the well-known Manual of Remote Sensing (1983, ASPRS).

In late 1999 Estes and others published “The Way Forward” in Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing (65:1089-1093), an evaluation of the prototype and a vision for a continuously updated global 1km earth cover dataset. In “A Perspective on Trends in Conservation, GAP, and a Vision for the Future of Biodiversity Managed Areas,” (Scott, Tear, Davis, eds, 1996, ASPRS) Jack articulated some of the challenges that GAP would face, such as: politics and political influence, lack of agreement among scientists concerning conservation priorities, lack of program support, lack of public awareness, and the institutional loss of sight of the GAP mission. He was right about these and other issues, and his loss leaves a gap that cannot be filled.

"The vision I hold for the future of GAP is global in scale and comprehensive in scope. It is for an integrated partnership of national and international agencies, non-governmental organizations, and private industry. It has a small but efficient, integrated management structure with supporting advisory panels. It has an effective operational support organization with an adequate budget. A funded, prioritized supporting science program is also in place. Global GAP has acceptable standards for data acquisition, network communications, processing, output products, and storage and archiving. It is part of a comprehensive global spatial data framework of linked, distributed data bases. Data Bases where all interested parties are able to communicate in an effective and efficient fashion, and acquire and validate the data/information they require for their application. A future where advanced satellite survey, airborne inventory, surface sampling and ancillary digital data acquisition procedures are applied in an integrated fashion to measure, map, monitor, model and manage conservation areas. A future where we know the levels of accuracy and understand more fully the potential pitfalls associated with the data/information decision processes in which we are engaged. A time where neither governments, their militaries, private industries, or any other special interest groups use national security, national sovereignty, copyright or proprietary rights as an excuse to inhibit the open unrestricted flow of environmental information. A future where the infrastructure exists to use GAP data/information to make wise choices/decisions that will lead to improved conservation strategies and an effective network of biodiversity managed areas for the benefit of the world community."

"I'll close with the words of the pop poet/songwriter, John Lennon: 'You might say that I'm a dreamer; but I'm not the only one.'"

Jack Estes, 1996


September 7, 2001
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