The Biodiversity Pilot will demonstrate the value of a European data hub for the creation of RS-EBVs (Essential Biodiversity Variables), which leads to creating a GEOhub for EBVs by linking the key policy/user network groups (GEO-BON, CBD and IPBES) with the space agencies (via CEOS). Secondly, it demonstrates the use of the European data hub in terms high-resolution RS-EBVs for habitat monitoring in order to support the European Environment Agency (EEA) and its Topic Centre for Biological Diversity (ETC-BD). The integration with in-situ vegetation relévés will play an important role here.


Focus on creating the biodiversity GEOhub

Importantly, the GEOhub will offer sustainability beyond the project lifetime by embedding the biodiversity GEOhub with the GEO Global Initiative GEO-BON. The need for remote sensing for global EBVs is to fill the spatial and temporal gaps between in situ observation biodiversity data. Several steps remain in order to actualize the acquisition of the observations needed for these remote sensing EBVs. GEO, through its Global Initiative GEO BON, proposes to act as a hub to facilitate iterative discussion between space agencies (via CEOS) and key policy bodies (CBD, IPBES).


Demonstrating the use of high-resolution RS-EBVs for habitat monitoring

It demonstrates the use of high-resolution RS-EBVs for habitat monitoring in order to support among others the EEA and ETC/BD. These organisations have special responsibilities with regard to European habitats, with specific emphasis on the reporting obligations towards the Birds and Habitat Directives. The spatial identification of European habitats and related changes are a difficult task, and much effort is nowadays being put in the spatial identification of EUNIS habitat types. Remote sensing data could play a much larger role than it has now, and a good integration of the large amount of in-situ field observations (vegetation plots) with high-resolution RS-EBVs is key. The integration of high-resolution RS-EBVs is demonstrated for forest and heathland habitats.

Quick Facts


The Biodiversity Pilot focuses on Europe. Although some of the Essential Biodiversity Variables (EBVs) such as Leaf Area Index (LAI) is conducted at the global scale.


To produce European habitat suitability maps:

  • Environmental predictors such as potential evapotranspiration, solar radiation, seasonality, mean temperature, annual precipitation, distance to water, bulk density of the soil, cation exchange capacity of the soil, soil organic carbon content, soil pH, etc.
  • RS-EBV’s: such as LAI, vegetation phenology, land cover, leaf nitrogen content, inundation, vegetation height.
  • More than 1 million recorded in-situ vegetation plots related to European EUNIS habitats

Moreover, EBVs ancillary products, which are available online have been populated at the NextGEOSS catalogue as follow:

  • Digital height_of the Netherlands
  • Global Landcover
  • Global Bio-climatic variables
  • Climate variables
  • Topography distance to the water
  • Global surface water occurrence change intensity
  • Global surface water occurrence
  • Global surface water maximum water extent
  • Global surface water recurrence
  • Global surface water transitions
  • Global surface water seasonality
  • Vegetation height
  • Species occurrence
  • Global potential evapotranspiration
  • Corine Landcover
  • Pan-European High-Resolution Layers

For more details see: Description of European RS-EBV’s and abiotic site conditions


To produce the Leaf Area Index:

Satellite high-resolution data (Sentinel-2) has been applied


The biodiversity community still lacks a global observing system that revolves around the monitoring of a set of agreed variables essential to the tracking of changes in biological diversity on Earth. Such a gap is worrying, as operational systems and the identification of priority biodiversity variables to be monitored are key to (i) coordinating globally consistent data collection across all dimensions of biodiversity, (ii) minimizing duplication of efforts so that scarce conservation funds are not wasted, and (iii) optimizing the allocation of the limited funds available for biodiversity monitoring worldwide (Pettorelli, 2016). There is an urgent need for remote sensing for EBVs to fill the spatial and temporal gaps between in situ observation data of biodiversity from the field. In other words, without remotely sensed systematic and continuous observations, a global framework for monitoring biodiversity cannot exist (Pettorelli, 2016). Several RS-EBVs are anticipated to be derived from satellite remote sensing, because satellite remote sensing is the only methodology able to provide a global coverage and continuous measures across space at relatively high spatial and temporal resolutions (Skidmore et al. 2015).


The focus is on supporting a biodiversity GEOhub and modelling the spatial distribution of European habitats, which serve the various biodiversity communities (not only GEO-BON, CBD and IPBES, EEA, ETC/BD, and many smaller organisations interested in biodiversity). The services facilitate biodiversity monitoring and provides the first level of concept between low-level primary observation and high-level biodiversity indicators as required by researchers, science institutions, stakeholders, decision-makers, etc.


The Biodiversity pilot is focused on creating the biodiversity GEOhub for RS-EBV’s, to support the GEOSS European Hub and provide full interoperability of biodiversity data. It demonstrates as well the use of RS-EBVs for habitat monitoring by spatial modelling of EUNIS habitats (maps with the spatial distribution of habitats).


  • The unique added value of the NextGEOSS platform for the ‘Biodiversity’ pilot (e.g. European EBV data hub) is that users can find and harvest the available continuous and ancillary EBV products provided by various space agencies, national and international organizations at different scales (e.g. local, national and global).

Check here


  • In addition, users can also retrieve and compute critical EBVs using remotely sensed high-resolution data (i.e., Sentinel-2) using global empiric approaches by selecting the time period for which users wish to call data and specifying the maximum cloud cover percentage.

Check here


  • Habitat mapping community portal
    The portal allows running habitat distribution models in the cloud. The resulting habitat suitability maps can be viewed in the browser and downloaded.

Check here


The web mapping tool for querying the spatial distribution of European habitats will be integrated in the GCI.


  • University of Twente
  • DLR
  • UAB


BIODIVERSITY: RS-EBVs for biodiversity monitoring

Community portal for EUNIS habitat suitability modelling

Description of European RS-EBV’s and abiotic site conditions

Description of European RS-EBV’s and abiotic site conditions

European Vegetation Archive (EUROPEAN VEGETATION ARCHIVE)

European Vegetation Archive (EVA)

EUNIS habitat type hierarchical view

Biodiversity monitoring & mapping

EuroGEO(SS) Workshop 2019

NextGEOSS Pilot Research Information


NextGEOSS in brief by 8 women on International Women's Day