Enabling the public sector to save money, innovate and make more effective policy decisions by using space technology and data

Case Study: EO DIP – Habitat Condition & Ecosystem Services

General Information

  • Provider: Environment Systems, Specto Natura, Geoger, APMgeo
  • Technology utilised: Earth observation (EO) – optical and radar
  • Thematic area: Environment
  • End user(s): Defra EO Centre of Excellence


  • 2016

This project was co-funded by SSGP and the Defra EO Centre of Excellence.

The condition of habitats, such as heathland, woodland and bogs, has a major impact on their ability to support biodiversity and provide services  on which people rely, including providing clean water, flood prevention, pollination and carbon storage. Monitoring habitat condition across all rural areas using field work is costly. It includes monitoring progress, over a very large, variable and fragmented asset of natural capital of 2893 sites, 25,000 management units, and 1 million hectares. A new approach is needed to accommodate substantial budget cuts of around 15%.

Who is involved?

Defra; JNCC; NE; EA; JNCC; agencies in Scotland, Wales, and NI; Environment Systems; Specto Natura; Geoger; and APMgeo.

Pilot objectives

  • Testing how processed Earth observation (EO) data products can streamline monitoring of the over 2,000 grasslands protected in England.
  • Testing how these products can be efficiently produced and applied to multiple applications, including habitat condition.

Project output

The work identified potential of a range of optical and radar indices/parameters, and refined the approach for a selected habitat – grasslands. The outputs are recognised as key part of future solution with risk based approach and other sources of environmental information.

Next steps

Reviewing the pilot projects in order to develop the changed working practices needed to benefit form the new information sources. Establish operational delivery of the EO products that support condition and other applications.