Making Earth Observation work for biodiversity and ecosystem services


JNCC have expertise in the field of Earth Observation (EO) and use this to provide high-quality evidence on biodiversity and ecosystems to inform decisions affecting the environment. Through using open data available from the Sentinel satellites, part of the Copernicus Programme, EO can help meet environmental policy and operational evidence needs. This is an unprecedented opportunity and JNCC are forging a role to support environmental applications.


The Wash, June 2016. An example of the detail provided by Sentinel-2 imagery. Contains modified Copernicus Sentinel -2 data 2016.The focus of EO work within JNCC explores the potential that EO has to offer for biodiversity and advising governments on its application in the following areas:


  • Mapping habitat extent
  • Assessing habitat condition for biodiversity and ecosystem services
  • Provision of analysis ready forms of EO data and products
  • Providing facilities to support the ‘big data’ analysis needed to detect change
  • Advising and providing training on how these technologies can form part of operational work for public sector bodies
  • Detecting marine activities Loch Ness and Inverness, June 2016. Contains modified Copernicus Sentinel-2 data 2016.


The increasing availability of imagery and open data is supporting development opportunities across the public sector in the UK. We provide EO expertise; JNCC is forging a role and a key player in this innovative field.  
JNCC are members of the Defra EO Centre of Excellence, a collaboration with organisations across the Defra network and the devolved administrations, the Scottish Remote Sensing Group and Welsh Earth Observation Group. Through this, JNCC advise on projects covering a range of policy areas, such as rural payments, water quality monitoring, forestry and habitat assessments. This maximises efficiency of data use, and costs, across all environment sectors. JNCC provide EO skills to accelerate uptake and help the country conservation bodies develop their own capabilities.


Through developing partnerships with the National Centre for Earth Observation (NCEO) and SMEs, JNCC is promoting standards for environmental evidence from EO.

Isles of Scilly, April 2017. Contains modified Copernicus Sentinel-2 data 2017.
We also work with governments of UK Overseas Territories to generate data products to help them manage their Natural Capital and Ecosystem Services, alongside conducting research to monitor and assess habitat condition.