TETIS - Land, environment, remote sensing and spatial information

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The TETIS research unit

“Land, environment, remote sensing and spatial information” Joint Research Unit (AgroParisTech – Irstea – Cirad (International Cooperation Centre for Agricultural Development Research)) is located in Montpellier (Remote Sensing Centre and Baillarguet site). Some researchers are assigned to offshore positions at partnering institutions. The Remote Sensing Centre, within the Agropolis research/training complex is also hosting an IRD (Institute for Research and Development) research unit (ESPACE-DEV JRU): it consists of a European-sized applied research centre for spatial methods, remote detection and geographic information for the environment, agriculture and land use.

The TETIS Joint Research Unit conducts methodological research concerning the management of spatial information. It uses an integrated approach of the spatial information chain, beginning with its acquisition (especially by satellite remote detection) and including its processing, management and use by stakeholders.

This research is divided amongst 4 teams and focuses on its parent organisations’ fields of interest: agriculture, environment, resources, land, health, risks, etc.

The ATTOS team is developing techniques and methods to detect, identify, characterise and monitor structural surfaces and objects of agro-environmental and land systems, on the basis of aerospace-acquired data.

The AMoS team is evaluating and developing characterisation and modelling methods and tools in order to advance the knowledge and management of agri-environmental and land systems. In particular, it is studying the spatial organisation of systems as well as the relationships which govern their dynamics and the spatial relationships between system parameters and the pressures to which they are subjected.

The SISO team is concerned with the management of spatial and complex environmental data, with the objective of responding to the major societal issues of understanding, cooperation, decision-making, monitoring and evaluation.

The UsIG team is developing concepts, methods and tools for the use of information in decision-making processes and collective action: it is contributing to the expression of requirements, and developing processes, all while analysing the place and role of information systems in these processes.

In cooperation with the JRU’s research, consulting, transfer and technical support activities, the TRAINING team is developing a geomatics training policy to meet the rapidly growing needs for skills due to technological advancements and territorial management practices. This training activity employs more than 20% of the JRU.

These teams support the Irstea SYNERGY research theme.

A significant part of the research and training activities is conducted as part of public policy support missions, partnerships with developing countries and JRU parent organisation expertise and transfer. It is concerned with meeting the needs of public and private partners by mobilising and using the team’s acquisitions and know-how through applied research, consulting and training.

For this reason, much of the work is conducted in collaboration with the Ministries in charge of Agriculture, Ecology and Foreign Affairs; public establishments (ONEMA (French National Agency for Water and Aquatic Environments), water agencies etc.), local government authorities (general councils, EPCI (group of communes with a common developmental purpose or project), etc.) and private partners in France (metropolitan and overseas departments), in Europe and in developing countries where JRU researchers (Cirad) have been assigned (Brazil, Reunion Island, Madagascar, Burkina Faso, etc.).

JRU research teams and common missions

Director of the Research Unit: Jean-Philippe Tonneau (Cirad)

Deputy Directors: Pierre Maurel (Irstea); Pierre Bazile (AgroparisTech)

ATTOS Team – Gathering and Processing Remote Sensing and Spatial Observation Data

AMoS Team – Spatial Analysis and Modelling

SISO Team – Spatial Information, Modelling, Data/Knowledge Extraction and Distribution System

UsIG Team – Using and Managing Spatial Information

TRAINING Team – Education and Training

Public Policy Support Mission

GEOSUD Programme

Examples of Results and Products


  • Potential of radar imaging with very high resolution to characterise ground-surface conditions (PNTS, ANR, FP7).
  • Potential of LIDAR data to quantify forest parameters and 3D-structure of vegetation (TOSCA).
  • Potential of LIDAR data to study continental and coastal water surfaces (altimetry and bathymetry).
  • Measurement of hydraulics variables of water-courses by altimetry and radar interferometry (TOSCA, ESA).
  • Estimation of cultivated surfaces and forecasting production in West Africa by multi-temporal satellite imaging (CEE, INSU).

AMoS Team

  • The regional impact of river-corridor ground occupation on the ecological status of aquatic environments (ONEMA, Water Agencies).
  • Remote detection and dynamic modelling of the epidemiology of vector-borne illnesses: application to the Senegal Rift Valley Fever transmission cycle (Nev-antropic).
  • Modelling of landscapes and simulation of their dynamics: definition of spatial, temporal and multi-scale primitives (ANR).
  • Study of urban growth and changes in agricultural spaces around the Moundou and N’Djamena villages in Chad (MAE France).


  • Support for the design and implementation of an information system with spatial references to assist the management of forest resources by Mali, Niger and Madagascar populations (CEE).
  • Heterogeneous data bank (field data, SPOT and MODIS images): application to the characterisation of African rural landscapes.
  • Design of a "Pesticides" Environmental Information System for the reduction of the impact of phytosanitary products on the environment.
  • Development of a decision-support tool using hydrobiological and physicochemical data to analyse ecological conditions of water-courses

UsIG Team

  • Territorial assistance for pluri-active project leaders: experimentation through training in the Haut Languedoc (CG 34, LR Region), use of cards to assist projects (PSDR INTERSAMA).
  • Analysis of the multi-player, multi-level territorial governance in regional development, the place for information and communication devices (PSDR GouvInnov).
  • Integrated management assistance for the coastal zone in the area of Thau, evaluation of geographical information tools (SMBT).
  • Principles, mechanisms and instruments to help with the integration of environmental service in new public action mechanisms in rural environments in Guadeloupe and Reunion Island (ANR SERENA).
  • The use of high resolution, spatial images in decentralised border management combining local occupational rights recognition committees (Madagascar Border Program).

Common projects

  • Analysis of lands with agricultural potential affected by territorial management (DRAF LR).
  • GIS training for the local development in Senegal.
  • Coordination of a national document for the restoration of ecological corridors (support to COMOP “Blue and Green Fabric” MEEDDM - French Ministry of Ecology, Energy, Sustainable Development and the Sea).

Master projects: observatories and the GEOSUD project

The observatory concept deals with JRU research questions while integrating various aspects of the information chain: data acquisition systems, processing, analysis, modelling, production and information management, sharing and appropriation of knowledge and evaluations.

The observatory projects developed by TETIS in both developed and developing countries are a mutual effort to address agricultural needs, land development and biodiversity.

TETIS JRU is coordinating the EQUIPEX GEOSUD project which has been selected in 2011. For 5 years (2011-2015) it will be providing the annual satellite coverage for France and zones in developing countries and will be made available to all public stake-holders. It will be used to develop a network that will connect the scientific community and managing stake-holders.

Project website : http://www.geosud.teledetection.fr/

Educational and training programs

In order to assist the various stakeholders (decision-makers, managers and researchers) to mobilise and share quality spatial information for the effective management of land and resources, TETIS JRU is developing a comprehensive training program:

Research training courses:

Master’s in Research, Graduate programmes

Professional training courses:

Degree: Mastère Spécialisé SILAT (Specialised Master’s in Localised Information Systems for Spatial Planning) 

Certificate: Certificat d’Etudes Avancées (Advanced Study Certificate) in Geomatics 

Qualifications: Short-term training course catalogue 

International training courses (projects, international partnerships, transfers of knowledge and competencies 

The above training activities are added to additional engineering training to ensure transfer of methods and tools and are subjected to a quality assurance process designed to permanently improve and adapt the overall training program to meet existing needs.

Involvement in research programmes

  • European Projects
  • National Projects
  • National and local government bodies: SIRHYUS, OPTIBAN


  • Calculation Cluster – Image-processing software – Scientific calculation software – GIS software
  • Databases, satellite cards and images – Cataloguing tools for geographical metadata – Servers
  • Satellite reception antenna (common to the Remote Sensing Centre)
  • Drone to take aerial snapshots – mono and bi-frequency GPS – Tachometers – Spectro-radiometers – terrestrial LIDAR, etc.
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