Skip to main content
European Commission logo print header

Monitoring Biodiversity from Space

Project description

Satellites can help assess and preserve biodiversity

Biodiversity refers to the variety and variability of all life on Earth and all its levels, from genes to ecosystems. Preservation of biodiversity is therefore vital for all of life. To date, monitoring is primarily derived from field observations, e.g. counting trees and monitoring birds. However, there is a critical need to transform the way we monitor biodiversity in its entirety, in order to prevent further biodiversity loss and restore healthy levels. The EU-funded BIOSPACE project is taking a different approach by combining two cutting-edge techniques: satellite remote sensing and environmental DNA profiling. The result will be a map of biodiversity with a wider taxonomical and functional breadth and depth than human field observation.


Life, with all its diversity, is in crisis. As humans increasingly encroach on biologically complex semi- natural landscapes, no organism, place or ecological function remains unaffected. While all 196 parties (195 countries plus the European Union) to the UN Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) have agreed to monitor the state of biodiversity, the currently available methods to do so leave much to be desired. Traditional monitoring involves the field observation of species by trained specialists, aided by skilled volunteers, whose expertise is restricted to specific biotic groupings. In a process that is both time consuming and inconsistent across time and space, botanists identify and record the presence of plant species and ornithologists the bird biota, resulting in 'unpopular' biotic groups such as fungi, bacteria and insects being under-observed or escaping identification altogether. In this project, a fundamentally different approach to terrestrial biodiversity monitoring couples next generation satellite remote sensing with environmental DNA (eDNA) profiling, complemented where available by legacy human-observed datasets. Satellite remote sensing is able to survey the environment as a single, continuous, fine-resolution map, while eDNA profiling can rapidly quantify much greater taxonomical and functional breadth and depth than human field observation. This project combines, for the first time, these two powerful, cutting-edge techniques for monitoring biodiversity at the global level in a consistent manner. Following from this, another key innovation will be the deepening of our scientific understanding of how biodiversity is impacted by anthropogenic pressure as well as by natural environmental gradients. In concert, these scientific developments will enable the accurate and fine grain monitoring of biodiversity from space – a ground-breaking contribution to the quest to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals and CBD Aichi targets.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 2 252 676,25
7522 NB Enschede

See on map

Oost-Nederland Overijssel Twente
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 2 252 676,25

Beneficiaries (2)