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

Case Study: EO DIP – Natural Habitat Management

General Information

  • Provider: Natural England
  • Technology utilised: Earth observation (EO)
  • 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.

Habitats such as blanket bog and wet heath perform vital roles in the uplands such as through capturing carbon, helping reduce the impact of flooding and improving water quality. Many areas have been degraded from activates such as drainage, peat cutting, heather burning and over grazing. Field-based monitoring as part of restoration programmes can be very time-consuming on large upland sites.

Pilot objectives

  • Validating the outputs from broad-scale mapping already produced using Earth observation (EO) in terms of accuracy and the suitability for assessing habitat condition
  • Producing refined habitat maps for the Border Mires, Kielder to Butterburn Special Areas of Conservation and testing the ability to distinguish different vegetation communities using EO
  • Determining the resolution of imagery sufficient for classifying EO imagery and whether suitable field data can be collected through existing monitoring programmes

Project outputs

Provisional methods are already having an impact, with land owner investment in mapping. The application is achievable through integration of very high resolution (VHR) data that is obtained for Rural Payments; software license sharing through EODIP’s collaboration node. The application is now adopted as a corporate Natural England target.

Next steps

Next steps will involve reviewing updated maps with stakeholders and developing habitat management plans. The maps will be updated over time with new imagery to assess the impact of management.