Information and Advsiory Note Number 96, August 1997
Earth Observation for Natura 2000 (EON2000) is a European partnership project funded by the EC Framework IV Programme (Environment and Climate: Centre for Earth Observation).
The core partnership comprises:
The project started in February 1997 and will run for three years. SNH has a major role at the beginning of the project by specifying the detail of outputs in a ‘Customer Requirements Document’.
2.1 The rationale: The project has been based on the requirements of the Habitats and Species Directive and aims to develop an Earth Observation system to support conservation organisations with responsibility for the Natura 2000 network.
The project will address three particular requirements of the Directive:
By its very nature, the project fulfils Article 18 which encourages research and scientific work between Member States. Research to address the obligation of Article 11 (surveillance of sites) is explicitly stated in Article 18.
2.2 Overall objective: The overall objective of the project is to:
‘develop a pilot system to analyse Earth Observation data of important natural habitats, in order to provide information to customers regarding the conservation status of those habitats’.
Clearly, Earth Observation techniques are not suitable to undertake surveillance of all the natural habitats and species of plants and animals covered by the Habitats and Species Directive. A complete evaluation of all habitats would also be beyond reasonable resources. Therefore, this pilot project will focus on forest related habitats but the system devised will be generic so that other habitats can be evaluated with minimal rescoping.
2.3 How the objective will be achieved: The system will be realised by implementing a combination of image processing and GIS analysis. Firstly, a baseline map for each area of interest (AOI) will be created in the GIS. Satellite imagery will then be acquired approximately three times per year for the duration of the project and compared with the baseline and any preceding data using a variety of change detection algorithms. Information on detected changes will be issued to customers (i.e. SNH area staff) who can then decide whether or not to allocate valuable field resources to investigate the change in greater detail.
The information on detected changes will also be aggregated over time and used for a variety of strategic analyses and reporting purposes.
2.4 The development of EON2000: The three year project aims to develop a habitat change detection system in the first two years and then to demonstrate the system in the final year.
The first step in the development of EON2000 will be a precise and accurate definition of the customers requirements. This will be achieved by holding customer workshops in each country. These workshops will also identify potential study sites (i.e. AOI’s) to be included in the project.
The customer requirements will be used to assist Geospace and the University of Joensuu to design a system to satisfy the requirements. Geospace will be responsible for most of the process design whilst the University of Joensuu will handle most of the change detection algorithm/software design. The process and software design documents will then be used to implement the system. The system will be implemented by NRSC in association with Geospace and the University of Joensuu. Once the system has been implemented baseline imagery will then be processed and incorporated into the database. These data will form the basis upon which new imagery will be compared.
The project will then enter a validation phase during which Earth Observation data will be compared with the baseline. Initially, the thresholds that define when a change has occurred will be placed with a priori knowledge that the customer may have regarding expected changes within the AOI. Field validation results will be used to adjust the threshold values for each individual habitat. As the validation phase only lasts for six months it is unreasonable to expect changes to occur in that small time period, therefore, validation imagery and associated field assessment will take place three times a year for years one and two. The imagery will then be evaluated during the validation phase as if new and a report generated. The report will then be compared with the field assessment and where required the threshold level adjusted. The validation phase will end with country workshops where customers will have the opportunity to comment upon the system and if required, changes will be made.
Once validation has been completed, the system will be run and operated from NRSC in close collaboration with the customers in each of the three countries in demonstration mode for one year. Three images will be acquired for each site during the year at predetermine intervals. The results of the change detection will be made available to customers (via WWW & for SNH ArcView2 format on CD).
The demonstration phase will then be completed with a workshop where all participants and customers will be invited and the results and findings of the project will be presented. To further facilitate dissemination Geospace will design a WWW page that will introduce and summarise the project.
The illustration below shows the rectangular outline of the satellite image which will form the overall area of study for the project in Scotland. Within this area there are a number of candidate woodland SAC sites which will be studied in greater detail.