Category Archives: monitoring

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Landscapes and rewilding in Europe

On 19 July 2000, the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers adopted the European Landscape Convention and decided to open it for signature to the 41 Member States of the Council of Europe.

The European Landscape Convention, also known as the Florence Convention, was the first international treaty to be exclusively devoted to all aspects of European landscape. It aims to fill the legal vacuum caused by the absence, at European level, of a specific, comprehensive reference text devoted entirely to the conservation, management and improvement of European landscapes in the international legal instruments on the environment, regional planning and the cultural heritage.

It applies to the entire territory of the signatories and covers natural, rural, urban and peri-urban areas. It concerns landscapes that might be considered outstanding as well as everyday or degraded landscapes. The Convention is aimed at: the protection, management and planning of all landscapes and raising awareness of the value of a living landscape.

The European Landscape Convention introduced a Europe-wide concept centring on the quality of landscape protection, management and planning and covering the entire territory, not just outstanding landscapes. Through its ground-breaking approach and its broader scope, it complements other work done by the Council of Europe and the UNESCO World Heritage Convention.

Council of Europe Heritage Priorities

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World Heritage Convention timeline

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Recent research by Quintera-Uribe and others (2022) suggests that large-scale ecological restoration of the multiple dimensions of landscape is crucial for effective biodiversity conservation and combating climate change. They analyse the main characteristics of participatory scenarios in Europe and suggest going beyond existing participatory activities centred on developing exploratory or target-seeking scenarios. They consider future-seeking scenarios related to ‘Nature for Society’ and ‘Nature as Culture’ and identify gaps for further work. Rewilding landscapes was an important theme in this research.

rewilding europe imageAccording to Harris (2021), rewilding was first discussed in the 1980s as a continental-scale vision to protect large tracts of wilderness and connect these areas with migration corridors. It is now considered to be a shift from human-centred, intensively managed landscapes to humans sharing their lands with the rest of nature.  In Europe rewilding is commonly connected with returning abandoned agricultural land to nature or allowing natural processes, like the coastal erosion of cliffs to take place with protecting them from the waves. Find out more about Rewilding European Landscapes

New initiatives like the Endangered Landscapes Programme are being developed restoring landscapes across Europe. Find out more by playing the video.


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Visualising Climate And Landscape

earthmap imageEarth Map ( is an innovative and free application developed by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations. It was designed in the framework of the partnership between the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations and Google. Earth map facilitates the visualisation, processing, and analysis of land and climate data.

It was created to support countries, research institutes and even farmers with internet access to monitor their land in an easy, integrated and multi-temporal manner.

Earth Map allows everyone to visualise, process and analyse satellite imagery and global datasets on climate, vegetation, fires, biodiversity, geo-social and other topics.

Earth Map’s data is divided into thematic segments – Climate, Geosocial, Vegetation, Land Degradation Neutrality, Water, Satellite images, Land maps, Forestry, Fire, Geophysical, Soil and Biodiversity.

The data allows users to visualise different layers of information to create maps and to generate statistics to describe the areas of interest. These layers include the European Space Agency’s Climate Change Initiative Land Cover, the Copernicus ECMWF Temperature and Precipitation ERA5 data, the Global Forest Change tree cover loss, Nightlights.

Earth Map allows users to access and display information from multiple time periods. It  thereby gives  both a temporal (accessing time series data) and a spatial (visualising places) perspective to their areas of interest.

Users need no prior knowledge of remote sensing or Geographical Information Systems (GIS).

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Find out moreVisit Earth Map

Pesticides in the landscape

Pesticides are a serious threat to food and agricultural systems. In the field, they kill not only pests, but also pollinators such as bees, and harm the quality of soils. They threaten the health of farmers and agricultural workers. But their toxic imprint will spiral in the landscape  – as pesticides can be found in food, water and air. They find their way into our bodies and our living environment.image on survey

Pesticide Checkup is an interesting initiative started earlier this year has now produced some interesting insights regarding the way pesticide influence our environments and more importantly – the human body.

Between May and August 2022, 300 people from across 10 European countries participated in the citizen science project to get their hair tested for pesticide residues. The independent laboratory EXPOZOM analysed the samples for the presence of 30 different pesticides.

The key findings from the report show that:
• Nearly every third person (29%) had residues of at least one pesticide in their hair. 25 out of the 30 sampled substances were detected.
• Farmers, farm workers and people living in rural areas usually had higher concentrations of pesticides in their hair.
• The top 3 pesticides detected were: the herbicide Prosulfocarb, the fungicide Tebuconazol and the insecticide Acetamiprid.

farm to fork diagramHowever, the results are not representative of the overall EU population due to under-sampling, the finding shows a trend and is consistent with empirical studies on the topic. Read the full report here.

Back in May 2020, the grassroots union published the Farm to Fork Strategy – a statement of intent for transforming food systems.

One of the goals of the strategy is to reduce the composition of pesticides by 50% by 2030. However, this goal is not legally bound to national governments and agrochemical lobbies.
The EU is currently planning its pesticide regulations, but there is a risk of less ambitious outcomes than European citizens would like. According to Angeliki Lyssimachou,

Senior Science Policy Officer at the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL), “Surveys like the Pesticide-CheckUp show that EU-wide measures to reduce exposure to toxic pesticides are urgently needed to safeguard the health of vulnerable groups, such as farmers and residents of agricultural areas. European governments and the Commission must put health first and move towards an agricultural model that does not depend on pesticides or other harmful chemicals”.

Find out more: GoodFood-GoodFarming

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Partner meeting tests GEOLAND app

geoland meeting During two days of October 2022, the GEOLAND Transnational Partner Meeting was held in Zaragoza, Spain. All the participants spent one whole day meeting, discussing the latest progress of the project with special attention on the mapping app developed by University of Ghent.

This app permits data gathering in the field and its aim is to allow the landscape to be evaluated in situ by students or even by the public. The use is very simple, everyone just has to open the app, save the GPS location, respond to a short survey and make a photo, which completes the collected information.

Next day, a field visit and app beta testing was scheduled. Five places with important landscape value were visited.

The app developed for the landscape evaluation was shown to present great functionality and very relevant results, so in following months it will be used with students and the general public.

Explore the Storymap to find out more.



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GEOLAND Handbook and Technical Annex available in 6 languages

The GEOLAND project seeks to improve and promote the engagement of Higher Education (HE) institutions, professors and students, in monitoring actions leading to effective 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 and Technical Annex in English, Bulgarian, Dutch, Greek, Italian and Spanish.

These are available for download from

The Handbook includes 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 Technical Annex complements the Handbook in order to provide details of the five methodological stages important for Landscape Character Assessment (LCA) by using GIS and public participation.

The five stages offer information, advice, resources and tools to carry out a Landscape Character Assessment for Natura 2000 or other sites of interest, are:
i) Purpose definition
ii) Desk-based data collection
iii) Field-based data collection
iv) Classification and
v) Overall evaluation

Training resources are now being developed to support university teachers and academics to implement the approach with their students.


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NATURA 2000 site at risk in Italy

Organisations for the protection of the environment take action

site satellite imageAs a whole, Nature 2000 sites in Italy protect 130 habitats, 89 species of flora and 111 species of fauna (of which 21 mammals, 11 reptiles, 16 amphibians, 25 fish, 38 invertebrates) and about 381 bird species.

Lake Vico is a Natura 2000 site created in a caldera lake in the northern Lazio region, central Italy. It is one of the highest major Italian lakes, with an altitude of 510 m. Administratively, it is part of the municipalities of Caprarola and Ronciglione.

The area is famous for its extensive Beech forest, which is one of the most southerly in Europe. The elevation, plus the surrounding sides of the crater, create conditions cool enough for the continued survival of the trees. A large part of the northern side of the crater is a Natura 2000 nature reserve to protect this forest.

The area is rich in biodiversity and consists of many protected areas, parks and natural reserves. Its habitats and species are so important that Lake Vico has been classified as a Natura 2000 site. Natura 2000 is a network of areas protected by the EU. vico image

However, Lake Vico, is currently at risk due to the intensive cultivation of hazelnuts by one of the giants of the world confectionery industry.

For this reason Client Earth and Lipu Birdlife Italy have decided to denounce the Lazio Region and to report its non-compliance with EU regulations.

“If we want to be able to successfully farm into the future, we need the public administrations to step in now to stop the area and its biodiversity from degrading irreversibly. If they don’t, intensive farming is going to wreck nature’s ability to provide for communities in the years ahead – and it’s depriving residents of safe drinking water today. That’s why we’re taking action.”

Find out more

Satellite image source: (Public Domain)

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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