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Making Earth Observation Work (MEOW) for Biodiversity Monitoring and Surveillance Phase 4 testing applications in habitat condition assessment - BE0119

The research project will test, evaluate and demonstrate the application of Earth observation (EO) to monitoring the condition of habitats. Achieving favourable habitat condition is a key outcome of the Biodiversity 2020, the new Countryside Stewardship Scheme and the EU Habitats Directive. Currently habitat condition is assessed through field surveys undertaken by Natural England or contractors. Application of EO offers opportunities to reduce costs associated with field survey and to improve the quality, coverage and currency of data. EO methods also offer a wider range of applications in mapping and assessment of ecosystems and ecosystem services. The focus of this project will be a grassland habitats which is a major element of the Countryside Stewardship.

This ‘invest-to-save’ project is part of new collaborative research platform that Defra is establishing with Defra-network bodies, the Devolved Administrations, the research and voluntary sectors. The project contributes to the Defra EO Road Map and will be coordinated with other Defra and UK Space Agency investments. The project will be designed to make use of free data from the EU Copernicus satellites when these data become available.
There are statutory reporting, policy and operational requirements to carry out habitat surveillance and monitoring. These derive from national and international commitments, legislation and policies which lead the UK to undertake habitat surveillance activities at a range of spatial and temporal scales. They include:
• Convention on Biological Diversity Aichi target indicators.
• EC Habitats Directive, Article 17:
• Biodiversity 2020 and country strategies:
• Water Framework Directive (WFD
• Reporting on Natural Capital- uses of robust habitat data in valuing ecosystem services.
• Agri-environment schemes will continue to provide a key delivery mechanism for the conservation and expansion of habitats. CAP reform on the budget split between Pillar I (which includes the newly introduced greening measures) and Pillar II which covers the Rural Development Plans (including the agri-environment schemes) are likely to prioritise meeting these drivers for habitat surveillance as well as making optimal use of synergies with other priorities such as woodland creation, improvement of soils, water and air quality and meeting the government commitment to the European Landscape Convention, delivering climate change resilience and providing information to support the National Pollinator Strategy.
• NERC ACT- at a more local Level, good quality habitat information can help Local Authorities in planning and consideration of impacts of developments on biodiversity.

The project will extend work and test approaches proposed Countryside Survey Review subproject-Using EO to produce indices of habitat condition and change (JNCC Ref. C14-0171-0901) and will also aim to identify other possible refinements or other methods.. This will be achieved by carrying out a thorough practical test of the findings from that project and to develop them further. In order to make the project a manageable size it will focus on grassland habitats in England. The outputs will help build confidence in the data products for detailed mapping of habitat condition, ecosystem restoration and ecosystem services through proof of concept of condition monitoring for grasslands
Project Documents
• FRP - Final Report : BE0119 MEOW4 Report Final   (7826k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2015

To: 2016

Cost: £57,371
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Environment Systems Ltd