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JNCC harnesses satellite imagery for the public sector - the 'Living England' initiative

News Item 2019

JNCC harnesses satellite imagery for the public sector

JNCC has partnered with Natural England on the ‘Living England’ initiative, which has led the way in a new generation of improved habitat maps. Living England is the first large-scale public sector mapping project in the UK to benefit from high-resolution open source imagery from the European Space Agency’s Copernicus satellites.

It was made possible by JNCC’s development of expertise in pre-processing raw data from the Copernicus satellites to create Analysis Ready Data (ARD) products that can be used easily and cost-effectively by public nature conservation bodies.

For Living England, JNCC pre-processed 1,000 scenes of Earth Observation data from the Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 satellites, following a complex set of steps. This included ensuring first that the data was correctly positioned, and then cleansing it to strip out the interference created as the signal travels through the atmosphere (e.g. from cloud or radiation). JNCC also provided field data from UK-wide species surveillance schemes, in an excellent example of data interoperability.

From this data, Natural England was able to generate detailed country-wide habitat maps which will be used across all the functions of Defra in its land management activity, from crop diversification checks to day-to-day forestry management. Overall, the results of the mapping provide the information needed to support many of the policies outlined in the Defra 25 Year Environment Plan

JNCC has also provided its Earth Observation data expertise in projects for the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. For example, in Northern Ireland, JNCC has processed satellite data and generated habitat maps for the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, which will be using the outputs in its planning, land management decisions and policy making.

JNCC is similarly bringing the approach to the UK’s Overseas Territories, where the satellite data are being used in conjunction with other data sources to create habitat maps to investigate environmental resilience; and to Chile and Peru to assist with ecosystem services projects.


Contact point within JNCC for further details:  Paul Robinson

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