ESA's Living Planet Symposium 2019 | Lifewatch regional portal

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ESA's Living Planet Symposium 2019

The European Space Agency’s 2019 Living Planet Symposium, an event which is held every three years, will take place on 13–17 May 2019 in Milan, Italy. The Symposium is organised with the support of the Italian Space Agency.

This symposium focuses on how Earth Observation contributes to science and society, and how disruptive technologies and actors are changing the traditional Earth Observation landscape, which is also creating new opportunities for public and private sector interactions.

During this symposium, the LifeWatch Wallonia-Brussels team is co-organizing a session on terrestrial biodiversity and remote sensing:


A3.02 EO for Terrestrial Biodiversity

Scientific advances in Remote Sensing of the function and structure of terrestrial ecosystems and their components. Despite increasing awareness that sustainable development cannot be achieved without safeguarding the environment, the world is still undergoing a massive degradation of terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems and consequently some dramatic reduction of the services these ecosystems provide to society. Regular assessment of the status of and change to biodiversity at a global scale is urgently needed. In this context, the 2020 Aichi biodiversity targets of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) address the underlying causes of biodiversity loss, reduce direct pressure on biodiversity, safeguard ecosystems and their services, and enhance implementation of the Convention. This requires scientific cooperation for the collection, production, analysis and dissemination of biodiversity data.

A framework for such a global and integrated biodiversity monitoring system is currently being developed by the Group on Earth Observation Biodiversity Observation Network (GEO BON) under the general concept of Essential Biodiversity Variables (EBVs). The EBVs have been defined as the key variables needed, on a regular and global basis, to understand and monitor changes in the Earth’s biodiversity, and form the basis of biodiversity monitoring programs by countries. From their conceptual definition in 2013, the EBVs have been based on the integration of remotely sensed observations that can be measured systematically and globally by satellites, with field observations from local sampling schemes integrated into large-scale generalisations. Satellite remote sensing allows wide scale, repeatable, standardised and cost effective measurements, yet their application in global biodiversity monitoring is still insufficiently developed, and the derivation of high-level biodiversity indicators from remotely sensed data has proved challenging.

The emergence of government-funded satellite missions with open and free data policies, global coverage, and long term continuity of observations, such as the Sentinel missions of the European Copernicus Program or the US Landsat series, offer an unprecedented ensemble of satellite observations at high spatial and temporal scales, which together with very high resolutions sensors from commercial vendors (e.g. SPOT 6/7, Pleiades, WorldView, QuickBird), enable the development of satellite-based biodiversity monitoring systems. The combined use of different sensors opens new pathways for a more effective and comprehensive use of Earth Observations in the functional and structural characterisation of terrestrial ecosystems and their components. The importance of EO for terrestrial biodiversity monitoring is also articulated by ongoing activities within the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) and Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS), namely GEO BON and CEOS Biodiversity, as well as funded projects by ESA, NASA and the European Commission H2020 program.

In this series of biodiversity sessions, we will present the recent scientific advances in the development of EO applications for the monitoring of the status of and changes to terrestrial ecosystems, and their relevance for biodiversity and conservation studies such as ecological modelling or ecosystem integrity analyses. The session will also present examples of the EO contribution to policy activities such as monitoring progress towards the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets of CBD and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. The development of RS-enabled EBVs for standardized global assessment will also be addressed, with the road ahead.

Topics of interest mainly include (not limited to):

  • Algorithm development for RS-enabled EBVs on terrestrial ecosystems;
  • Integration of EO in biodiversity studies (ecological modelling, ecosystem integrity analyses, species distribution models);
  • Use of EO for biodiversity indicators;
  • Characterization of biodiversity using EO;
  • Characterization of terrestrial ecosystems and their services;
  • Validation of biodiversity-relevant EO products (with accuracy estimation);
  • Multi-sensor approaches to biodiversity monitoring (e.g. multi-sensor analysis of ecosystem structural and functional traits)
  • Linking EO with crowdsourcing information for biodiversity monitoring;
  • Linking EO, EBVs and biodiversity policy

Convenors: Andrew Skidmore (U. Twente), Marc Paganini (ESA), Julien Radoux (U.C. Louvain, LifeWatch Wallonia-Brussels Team)

MiCo - Milano Congressi
Monday, May 13, 2019 - 09:00 to Friday, May 17, 2019 - 17:00