The use of remote sensing techniques and spatial analysis tools are among the fastest growing fields in nature conservation planning and management. Access to free high-quality spatial data is improving day by day (e.g. thanks to the EU Copernicus earth observation and monitoring programme). Moreover, the availability of low-price and easy-to-use mapping equipment and open source software makes it possible to implement new technologies in biodiversity conservation on every level, including for managers of high value nature conservation areas.
Last spring Eurosite organised the 4th Natura 2000 Monitoring workshop (hosted by Estación Biológica de Doñana, Spain, 9-11.04.2019) to bring these matters closer to managers of sites protected for nature conservation. The workshop was one of the networking events of the Natura 2000 Biogeographical Process. We discussed the roles of satellite and drone images in conservation monitoring and the usefulness of open source software packages that can increase the efficiency, accuracy and precision of our work. You can find the workshop report here. One of the main results of this fruitful meeting was the conclusion that there is a high demand for Eurosite members to create a new, permanent working group focused directly on remote sensing.
Our new remote sensing working group (RSWG) is already established under the chairmanship of Clive Hurford – a noted conservationist who specialises in biodiversity monitoring. The first RSWG meeting was held online on 29 October 2019. Together with experts from Czech Republic, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden and UK we discussed opportunities for closer cooperation and involvement of other Eurosite members in this field. One of our ideas is to develop innovative, open tools supporting open access to biodiversity spatial data analysis. Next year we plan to organize a common workshop together with Economics and Ecosystem Services Working Group on the use of remote sensing in ecosystem services mapping and analysis. The remote sensing group is open to managers of nature conservation sites that would like to bring and share their experiences in a wider, European forum.