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Habitat Extent

JNCC works extensively on methods and techniques to support activities involved with assessing habitat extent throughout the UK and Overseas Territories. We work to develop and provide tools and analytical services that can be deployed in support of decision-making.

Image: Peatland in Scotland. Contains modified Copernicus Sentinel-2 data 2016Current approaches for using EO within JNCC for biodiversity surveillance of terrestrial and freshwater habitats originated with the establishment of the Making Earth Observation Work for UK Biodiversity (MEOW) project, funded by Defra and the SSGP. This was a four-phase project to address habitat monitoring and surveillance needs in the UK. The first three phases of the MEOW project relate to habitat extent.

MEOW helps in producing high-quality evidence on biodiversity and ecosystems to inform decisions affecting the environment.

  • Phase 1 reviewed activity and advancements in the field of EO, and reported on the potential of using EO techniques for habitat and biodiversity surveillance.  Phase 1 also proposed the Crick Framework; a way to categorise how well EO techniques can be used to identify habitats and features on the ground.
  • Phase 2 of the project undertook an EO surveillance pilot in Norfolk to test the Crick Framework for operational habitat surveillance and monitoring.Image: Detailed habitat map of Cumbria, created as part of Natural England’s Living Maps project
  • Phase 3 focused on developing lessons learnt across upland areas in the UK.

The MEOW project set out the rationale for adoption and rollout of EO habitat mapping across the UK. This has led to Natural England producing the Living Maps project.

Living Maps project is an initiative to produce detailed habitat maps derived from EO data. The initiative is led by Natural England, with input from JNCC through producing Analysis Ready Data (ARD) for Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 imagery.

This project demonstrates the use of open source software as an efficient solution to undertaking habitat extent mapping. Rapid mechanisms for the open and efficient sharing of environmental data were developed. Work is ongoing to refine methods through the Centre of Excellence to allow services to be rapidly deployed in support of decision-making across the UK.

JNCC is bringing the work conducted on Living Maps into the Overseas Territories to assist on ecosystem services/habitat extent monitoring projects.

Image: Cumbria, March 2016. Contains modified Copernicus Sentinel-2 data 2016Image: Montserrat




Earth Observation

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