Dear Readers,

This is the fourth release of the ECOPOTENTIAL newsletter. This issue comes just in the middle of the first periodic reporting of the project and it’s time for a first balance. After one and a half year of project activities, we may say that all the foreseen actions are now ongoing and we set the stage for the second part of the project. The collection of both Remote Sensing and In Situ data is progressing, and research results are being delivered, together with the first publications on journals. After this first “incubation” period, many more results and publications are expected in the forthcoming two years. Moreover, we put the basis for a strong networking and communication strategy: we had more than 50 presentations of scientific results at international events, and more than 20 general presentations of the project. The GEO-ECO initiative has been launched and presented at major events as the XIII GEO Plenary meeting and the first ILTER Conference. Storylines are now in their maturity, Essential Variables are being identified and measured, and a remote-sensing-based view of Protected Areas is being built. We had several internal meetings and workshops, and others are planned for the next months, also in conjunction with the twin H2020 project SWOS. Another important event for the next months will be the meeting – workshop with Protected Areas managers and technical staff which will take place in Pisa, Italy, in May 2017. This meeting will represent an important milestone for our project, as it will be the occasion for sharing our views about the use of Earth Observation data for the benefit of scientific research on protected areas and for creating a Community of Practice. This event, together with the launch of the Virtual Laboratory Platform, will be the turning point for putting our research output at the service of a broad community of users. Ecopotential is a lively community and this is reflected in this issue of the newsletter. We all hope that you will enjoy it and come back to us with your feedbacks and comments!

Antonello Provenzale, National Research Council of Italy, Coordinator of ECOPOTENTIAL