Reinforcing the roles of remote sensing in Natura 2000 monitoring

Remote sensing is emerging as a viable tool in nature conservation for collecting sufficient and up-to-date spatial information on the status of protected areas. A recently published Springer book called "The roles of remote sensing in nature conservation" (edited by Díaz-Delgado et al 2017) forms the basis of a continuous networking exercise that aims to effectively transfer remote sensing technology - including research findings and practical tools - to managers of protected areas, such as Natura 2000 sites.

The idea for a book emerged from several European meetings on habitat mapping in Natura 2000 sites, where it was agreed that one of the major challenges for nature conservation in Europe is related to the need to provide updated spatial information on habitat status and of sustaining long-term monitoring activities. This initiative has increased awareness about the potential of using remote sensing to address these challanges, and it has bridged the gap between conservation practitioners and remote sensing experts. In addition, a network has been established, called the Eurosite Remote Sensing User Support Group and involving experts from 15 European countries.

The book illustrates a number of specific sites that have successfully used remote sensing methods to assess and monitor habitat conservation status. For instance, Doñana in Spain, Kalmthoutse Heide (a cross-border Natura 2000 site in Belgium and the Netherlands), Wahner Heide (a heathland between the cities of Cologne and Bonn in Germany), and the Flemish nature reserve De Westhoek, in Belgium. The publication of the book is a collective effort and a culminating networking achievement in terms of raising awareness for the use of remote sensing in monitoring Natura 2000 sites and other protected areas.