Using remote sensing to monitor biodiversity

In our latest contribution to the Convention on Biological Diversity Technical Series, a team from UNEP-WCMC explores how remote sensing can and should fit into biodiversity monitoring systems.

Aimed at policymakers, biodiversity scientists and specialists in Earth Observation (EO), the report analyzes the main obstacles and challenges that have hindered the use of EO and identifies opportunities for its greater use in biodiversity monitoring.

EO technologies include spaceborne, airborne and ground-based sensors that record information on the state of the environment but their use in biodiversity monitoring is limited and their potential is yet to be fully realized. While in part this may be due to data and analytical constraints, it may also be the result of a poor connection between end users’ needs and available EO technology.

The report also highlights existing and emerging remote sensing capabilities to support the monitoring of progress towards the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. For example, remote sensing can be used in the analysis of land cover change or to collect information on air and water quality.

The report was prepared at the request of Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity. We hope it will encourage an ongoing commitment by the biodiversity and EO specialist communities to realize the full potential of existing and upcoming EO technologies. This renewed dialogue will ensure every opportunity will be taken to enhance monitoring and assessment of biodiversity at the national and international level.

Publication information

Secades, C., O'Connor, B., Brown, C. and Walpole, M. (2014). Earth Observation for Biodiversity Monitoring: A review of current approaches and future opportunities for tracking progress towards the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, Montréal, Canada. Technical Series No. 72