Integrating remote sensing in Natura 2000 habitat monitoring: prospects on the way forward

J. Vanden Borre, D. Paelinckx, C.A. Mücher, L. Kooistra, B. Haest, G. De Blust, A.M. Schmidt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

138 Citations (Scopus)


Monitoring and reporting on the state of nature gained increasing importance in the European Union with the implementation of the Habitats Directive and the Natura 2000 network. Reporting habitat conservation status requires detailed knowledge on many aspects of habitats at different spatial levels. Remote sensing is recognised as a powerful tool to acquire synoptic data on habitats, but to date, its use for Natura 2000 monitoring and reporting is still very limited. One reason for this appears to be the knowledge gap between the nature conservation agencies and the remote sensing community. We conducted a review of legal monitoring and reporting requirements on Natura 2000 habitats, looked into the current use of remote sensing in habitat reporting, and consulted monitoring experts in nature conservation administrations to find out about their attitude and expectations towards remote sensing. In this paper, we disclose and summarise the real data needs behind the legal requirements for Natura 2000 habitat monitoring and reporting, analyse opportunities and constraints for remote sensing, and highlight bottlenecks and pathways to resolve them. Monitoring experts are not unwilling to use remote sensing data, but they are unsure of whether remote sensing can suit their needs in a cost-effective way. They look upon remote sensing as a one-way process of data deliverance and fail to see the importance of their active cooperation. Based on our findings, we argue that the integration of remote sensing into Natura 2000 habitat monitoring could benefit from (1) harmonising and standardising approaches, (2) focusing on data at hand to develop readily useful products, (3) a proper validation of both traditional and remote sensing methods, and (4) an enhanced sharing and exchange of ideas and results between the different research communities involved
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)116-125
JournalJournal for Nature Conservation
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • landscape ecology
  • biodiversity
  • conservation
  • indicators
  • context
  • images
  • scale
  • area


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