ERS- satellite image

Data acquisition for landscape monitoring and assessment

Landscape monitoring and assessment involves many different disciplines from the ecological to the social and cultural.Copernicus web site

Innovative methods for data acquisition on landscape and land management have been established due to significant advances in remote sensing and geospatial information science, for example from the EU Copernicus programme.

These include sensor data acquisition, cloud computing and rapid high quality image processing capabilities using tools such as uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs or ‘drones’), satellite and airborne-based sensors, as well as Lidar with high spatial, spectral, radiometric and temporal resolutions.

Automatic image orientation, surface reconstruction, scene analysis, change detection, classification and automatic feature extraction with the help of artificial intelligence, spatial statistics and machine learning are also being developed for use with the management of land developments and land use planning.olive trees photo

EU satellites reveal how bio-fertiliser can protect the olive groves of southern Italy

The bacterium Xylella fastidiosa (Xfp) has attacked olive trees in Italy since 2013, with severe impacts. Researchers have used Sentinel-2 satellite data to show that bio-fertiliser is proving effective in restoring the agro-ecosystem where since 2013 the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa (Xfp) has attacked olive trees in Italy,

Sentinel-2 data is part of the European Union’s Copernicus Earth Observation programme, which monitors land and marine environments, atmosphere, climate change, emergency response and security to support EU policy. Find out more 

Non-native species assessment 

Remote sensing can help monitor the colonisation of natural habitats by non-native species. These cause substantial ecological and economic damage. Research in Spain suggests monitoring and response efforts need to be prioritised as the removal of established alien species populations is costly and rarely successful.

The EU’s Invasive Alien Species (IAS) Regulation includes measures to manage established invasive alien species and to reduce the number of Red List species that they threaten by 50% by 2030. Find out more

Using satellite remote sensing to monitor biodiversity richnessforest photo

The presence and abundance of European aspen is a useful indicator of boreal forest biodiversity. The species richness and community composition of epiphytic lichens provide information about the influencing factors in their environment (humidity, tree density and age, light availability and more).

However, intensive forestry practices are causing aspen populations to decline, leading to a subsequent loss of lichen habitat. Find out more

The use of remote sensing methods is increasingly being used to reliably detect patterns and trends in biodiversity, with ‘light detection and ranging’ (LiDAR) and hyperspectral imaging to explore diversity in habitats, plant species and plant characteristics.

Remote sensing was more effective at predicting lichen communities than traditional field methods characterising the suitability of individual trees for lichen growth in Europe’s protected areas and to provide a more efficient way to map possible biodiversity hotspots. Natura 2000 sites map


Monitoring landscapes is a crucial action especially in times when the impacts of climate change are so significant.

There is a need for expertise in landscape monitoring which is derived from a range of disciplines including geology, ecology, environment, geography, economics, sociology, psychology and history.

These interconnections should be considered essential for monitoring the progress towards achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).