Category Archives: monitoring

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Life and Natura 2000 now 30 years old

The LIFE Programme and Natura 2000 have reached the age of 30.

On 21 May 1992, the then European Economic Community passed two laws that would forever change the face of nature conservation, the Habitats Directive and the LIFE Regulation, which established the LIFE Programme. The Habitats Directive also established the Europe-wide ecological network of protected areas called Natura 2000.

The LIFE Programme has co-financed conservation actions on more than 6 000 Natura 2000 sites –roughly 20% of the entire network. It has also doubled the size of the marine Natura 2000 network over the past five years. €3 billion has been spent on 1 800 nature and biodiversity projects. LIFE projects have safeguarded some 750 species. Also, LIFE has purchased around 200 000 hectares of land across the EU – this land is protected indefinitely.newsletter-cover

30 years on, Natura 2000 forms the backbone of EU nature conservation policy. It is the world’s largest coordinated network of legally protected areas and covers 18% of the EU’s land area and more than 9% of its sea area. Natura 2000 is vital for the successful implementation of the European Green Deal.

The Natura 2000 Newsletter is published twice a year, provides up to date information on activities, events and initiatives on the EU’s biodiversity policy and the implementation of the Habitats and Birds Directives.

The newsletter is free and is available in English, French, German, Spanish, Italian and Polish both in pdf format and in printed version. Subscribe to the newsletter

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GEOLAND at the United Nations

GEOLAND Project members participated and presented the project at the Twelfth Session of the United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM) at t5he UN Headquarters in New York.policy graphic

The twelfth session of the United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM) was held from 3 – 5 August 2022.

UN-GGIM, comprises experts designated by the Governments of Member States. It seeks to promote international cooperation in global geospatial information management and provide a forum for coordination and dialogue among Member States, and between Member States and relevant international organisations.

As the relevant inter-governmental body on geospatial information in the United Nations, UN-GGIM reports on all matters relating to geography, geospatial information and related topics to the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). unggim-photo

As an NGO with consultative status in the United Nations, GEOLAND project partner EUROGEO participates in debates and discussions related to topics such as environment, data, smart city developments and actions concerning  the Sustainable Development Goals.

The GEOLAND Project is relevant to the work of UN-GGIM as it deals with the concepts, data, tools and technologies concerning the monitoring of landscapes based on the rules of the European Landscape Convention (ELC). As a result the project aims to educate, inform and advise students and their professors concerning the policy implications of undertaking landscape monitoring and assessment. GEOLAND will help students and professors to comprehend the problems that arise from heterogeneous applications of ELC and suggest possible solutions to these issues.unggim-graphic

The GEOLAND project also seeks to reinforce European Policy in landscape conservation as well as national and local actions regarding the implementation of the European Landscape Convention.

GEOLAND will seek to provide essential recommendations for policy makers and maintain a dialogue with relevant stakeholders, open for future development. The GEOLAND methodology employed is eventually expected to constitute a road map for relevant studies not only in Europe but also worldwide.

Explore the EUROGEO presentation introducing international policy dimensions in landscape monitoring and geospatial technologies, from the UN to the Council of Europe.

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GEOLAND to be presented at the United Nations

UNGGIM logoMembers of the European Association of Geographers, Karl Donert, Rafael de Miguel (UNIZAR) and Luc Zwartjes (University of Ghent) will participate and share experiences and expertise about the GEOLAND Project at the United Nations during the Twelfth Session of the United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM) in New York in August 2022.

meeting-imageThe Committee of Experts UN-GGIM was established as the key intergovernmental mechanism for making joint decisions and setting directions with regard to the production, availability and use of geospatial information within national, regional and global policy frameworks.

Led by United Nations Member States, UN-GGIM aims to address global challenges regarding the use of geospatial information, including in the development agendas, and to serve as a body for global policymaking in the field of geospatial information management.

UN-GGIM aims at playing a leading role in setting the agenda for the development of global geospatial information and to promote its use to address key global challenges.

It provides a forum to liaise and coordinate among Member States, and between Member States and international organisations.

Download the GEOLAND session concept note published as part of the UN-GGIM official program

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Land Cover Datasets Book now available

A new book supporting the landscape work of teachers, students and researchers has beendatasets book cover image published by Springer. The publication is freely available for download as a pdf or as an EPUB.

The book “Land Use Cover Datasets and Validation Tools Validation Practices with QGIS” develops concepts on land use data and provides lessons using the open source QGIS software.

QGIS is a free and open-source cross-platform desktop geographic information system application that supports viewing, editing, printing, and analysis of geospatial data.

According to the publishers, this represents an up-to-date comprehensive review of theory and techniques to validate land-use cover information. It provides detailed tutorials to easily apply most of the available validation techniques in open access GIS software, shows detailed review of Land Use Cover data currently available at global and continental scales and is freely available to all readers, as this book is open access.

The book editors are David García-Álvarez, María Teresa Camacho Olmedo, Martin Paegelow and Jean François Mas.

Further details and download options are available at https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-3-030-90998-7

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Natura 2000 network biodiversity maps for Spanish regions

The Natura 2000 protected area network is the EU’s flagship biodiversity
conservation initiative.methodology chart

Stretching over 18% of the EU’s land area and more than 8% of its marine territory, Natura 2000 is the largest coordinated network of protected areas in the world. It offers a haven to Europe’s most valuable and threatened species and habitats.

Natura 2000 is a network of core breeding and resting sites for rare and threatened species, and some rare natural habitat types which are protected in their own right. It stretches across all EU countries, both on land and at sea. The aim of the network is to ensure the long-term survival of Europe’s most valuable and threatened species and habitats, listed under both the Birds Directive and the Habitats Directive.

A Natura 2000 Viewer has been developed as an online tool that presents all Natura 2000 sites. It provides key information on designated species and habitats, data on population sizes and information on conservation status. The viewer can be used for general purposes or for more specific searches.Leon maps

A research study focused on the autonomous communities (regions) of Andalucía and Castillia y León in Spain. It was based on the Spanish National Biodiversity Inventory, which uses a grid made up of 10-kilometre squares to record species presence across the country.

Data was  also gathered from the Corine Land Cover inventory, public administrations’ cartographic information of the protected areas under the EU’s Habitats Directive, and all the protected species from the Habitats and Birds Directives and critically endangered, endangered and vulnerable species from the National Catalogue of Endangered Species, to produce a value of importance for biodiversity (VIB) score for every grid square.

The maps were then used to construct four different scenarios for levels of protected-area networks.

Find out more about the study and how the VIB was calculated and the results of the research – Download the research paper

Download the network proposal research paper

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GEOLAND Handbook : Technical Annex available

method diagramThe GEOLAND Project recently published, in partner languages, an Educational Handbook for monitoring European Landscape.  To complement this document a Technical Annex has been produced to provide details of the five methodological stages important for Landscape Character Assessment (LCA) by using GIS and public participation.

The five stages are:

i) Purpose definition
ii) Desk-based data collection
iii) Field-based data collection
iv) Classification and
v) Overall evaluation

They are dealt with in detail, offering information, advised, resources and tools to carry out a Landscape Character Assessment on Natura 2000 or other sites of interest.

Examples of site selection, desk-based collected datasets, approaches for field study and landscape character recognition are provided.

Monitoring and protecting the Landscape is a crucial environmental goal. The handbook and technical annex will help to enable the uptake of novel ways to engage and empower students in environmental science and other disciplines and stimulate participatory decision-making. GEOLAND highlights the fact that students and, in general, citizens can in fact have a real impact in environmental monitoring and landscape management.

Download the GEOLAND Technical Annex

The Annex is also available in partner languages-  Bulgarian, Dutch, Greek, Spanish

Educational Handbook published

The vision of the GEOLAND project is to establish and promote the effective participation of Higher Education (HE) institutions in monitoring actions leading to influencing decision-making for the implementation of the European Landscape Convention (ELC).handbook cover image

With this in mind the project has published an Educational Handbook with state-of-the-art information and materials on learning and teaching perspectives, methodologies including citizen science, and Landscape Character Assessment related to the European Landscape Convention.

The Educational Handbook can be downloaded in English, Bulgarian, Dutch, Greek and Spanish, from https://www.geolandproject.eu/outputs/

A Technical Annex to the Handbook will shortly follow with examples, advice and guidance on the teaching and learning of the five methodological stages for Landscape Character Assessment.

Download a leaflet about the project

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Ghent University students test a new landscape assessment observation sheet

As part of the GeoLand project students of Ghent University geography department went beginning May 2022 on a terrain study at the Damvallei, an area near Ghent with a variety of values and land uses, but also registered as Natura 2000 sites.

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The area is an old meander of the Scheldt river near Ghent, cut into four by two motorways and because of its proximity to the city with a multitude of space users.

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Nevertheless, a large part is still very valuable biologically (green to dark green), so that parts of it became a Natura 2000 area (orange areas on the map).

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The GeoLand project wants to involve higher education students in the study and appreciation of these landscapes. As a first step, the students did a reconnaissance by investigating different cells within the area grid.

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They used a research sheet developed by Prof. Van Eetvelde (UGent).
Download the Observation Sheet

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The next step will be to map all the collected information on a GIS platform.

Find out more about the GeoLand project 

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GEOLAND Handbook presented at EUROGEO 2022

GEOLAND was presented at EUROGEO 2022, a conference held on Lesvos island, Island, Greece on 5-6 May 2022 nd the first output – GEOLAND Handbook on Digital Educational Geoinformatic Methodologies for Monitoring Landscape was launched. output 1

The event attracted more than 120 educators and researchers from over 35 countries. Over 90 presentations, 5 workshops and 15 posters were presented.

EUROGEO conference Lesvos 2022 took the theme “RE-VISIONING GEOGRAPHY FOR SUSTAINABILITY IN THE POST-COVID ERA”. The following were the Conference Strands:
– How do geographers, universities, companies and education respond to Sustainable Development Goals and complex challenges in the context of the COVID pandemic?presentation image
– What is the role of Geography in the landscape of spatial technologies and open data and how can these assist in achieving SDGs?
– How new eco-social challenges are positioned in the face of a post-pandemic Global Change?
– How can we explore novel educational contexts and resources to transform towards sustainability of socio-ecological systems?
– What conceptual frameworks and strategies can contribute to the construction of societies based on human welfare and the care of nature?
– What are the interactions between Sustainable Development Goals, international migrations and refugees?

See the Full conference programme

Download the Handbook in English
Download the Handbook in Dutch

View the presentation below

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The importance of satellite images

Satellite images are images of Earth collected by imaging satellites that are operated either by governments or companies. Satellite images are one of the most powerful and important tools we have for monitoring the earth. They track the physical environment (water, air, land, vegetation) and the changing human footprint across the globe. Satellite imagery is used to measure, identify and track human activity.

Satellite images have many applications for instance in meteorology and weather forecasting,  fishing, oceanography, agriculture, conservation, forestry, landscape analysis, geology, mapping, regional planning, environmental assessment, intelligence, warfare and education.  In education, satellite images are present in textbooks and online as support for maps, graphs and text.

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Currently, improvements in Earth Observation programs are opening the door for the educational community to increasingly use satellite image products. You can access them from the following links.

European Space Agency (ESA) :Using infra-red imagery
Edusat: Aprendre a observar la Terra
European Space Agency (ESA): Education resources 
NASA visible earth: image catalogue
NASA Earth Data Learn:  learning about image sensors 
Landsat Outreach: education resources
USGS: tracking change over time
Sentinel Hub: learn about satellite imagery