GlobDiversity aims to promote the use of satellite-derived observations and derived measurements to inform biodiversity related policies. Communication of the meaning of these observations and their potential for measuring biodiversity change is critical to GlobDiversity achieving its policy impact.

  • Demonstrate the structural and functional components of terrestrial biodiversity that can be measured from space across four terrestrial biomes
  • Showcase different Earth Observation (EO) satellites and infrastructure that can systematically observe terrestrial biodiversity on a regular and repeatable basis
  • Produce guidance materials on how EO can contribute to the needs of existing biodiversity indicators and potentially shape new indicators on ecosystem structure and function

Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the governing body of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES): 

  • Member states
  • Observers (states not yet members and other accredited organisations & agencies)

Intermediate audiences which can act as a medium for reaching a policy audience:

  • Scientists in the working groups on ecosystem structure and function of the Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network (GEO-BON)
  • Experts of assessments carried out by the IPBES

Essential Biodiversity Variables (EBVs) are defined as the key variables required for studying, reporting on and managing biodiversity change, focusing on the status and trends in different elements of biodiversity[1].

The EBVs are proposed as an observation system that provides guidance to the biodiversity indicators used in policy as well as insulating that system from changes in policy itself. GlobDiversity will explore the contribution of satellite remote sensing observations in the observation of EBVs and show case their use in real world conservation challenges.

The concept of EBVs grew out of progress during the last 15 years on Essential Climate Variables (ECVs) under the auspices of the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

[1] Pereira, H. M., S. Ferrier, et al (2013). "Essential biodiversity variables." Science 339(6117): 277-278.

GlobDiversity will improve our methods of monitoring spatial and temporal changes in ecosystems through the three RS- enabled EBVs studied:

  1. Fragmentation sub-variables capture the geographic boundaries and areal extent of ecosystems and the degree to which a previously contiguous ecosystem has been divided. Fragmentation is the level of discontinuity in a once-continuous ecosystem, with a highly fragmented ecosystem being composed of small and increasingly isolated patches, mainly driven by human land use change. Fragmentation directly affects both the distribution and abundance of species as well as a variety of ecosystem functions.
  2. Chlorophyll can be used for vegetation health monitoring, forage quality assessment, input variables for key EU (and global) ecological and ecosystem models, ecosystem classification, biomass estimation, productivity measures and indices (NPP, GPP etc), habitat extent and condition and restoration potential. The RS-enabled EBV Chlorophyll is highly correlated with leaf nitrogen content.
  3. Land surface phenology's sub-variables, such as length of, as well as start and end of growing season, can be used for many biodiversity applications and use case studies. Applications of vegetation phenology include fauna damage (for example bark beetle attack or overgrazing by herbivores such as deer or rabbits), ecosystem and biome identification and mapping, species distribution modelling and abundance, invasive species monitoring, as well as animal and bird movement ecology.
  4. Vegetation Height - and 3D vegetation structure - is an important parameter for landscape-scale habitat and biodiversity variables in particular for ecosystem structures. As space-born data sets is not yet available - but planned for the foreseeable future - the project focus on a conceptual study for vegetation height.
  1. Applying the three RS-enabled EBVs in four use case studies: This will allow the assessment of the utility of the studied RS-enabled EBVs in policy-related biodiversity analysis (e.g. biodiversity indicators, ecosystem services analysis, predictive ecological modelling). These use cases will embody the expressed needs of end users and stakeholders and will show innovation in the application of RS-enabled EBVs to solve real world conservation problems in four contrasting biomes from Arctic tundra to tropical forest. However, they will also show the broader applicability of the three RS-EBVs beyond the local scale, in the context of regional and international policy objectives.
  1. Scaling the RS-EBVs in a regional demonstration exercise: The performance of the RS-EBVs will be tested, not only in terms of geographical scaling, but also in terms of different policy scales. The choice of a demonstration area will be informed by policy needs, exploring the demand across different policy sectors, taken in conjunction with appropriate national institutions. Potential regional policy needs could be in scenarios for IPBES, informing actions to achieve national targets and testing RS-enabled EBV contribution to national and global indicators.
  1. Designing a roadmap to see RS-EBVs through to implementation: The roadmap will describe a strategy that seeks to facilitate collaborative efforts between the biodiversity community, policy makers and the space agencies, which can ultimately contribute to a global and comprehensive biodiversity knowledge system based on RS-enabled EBVs. Roadmap supporting activities (for achieving the roadmap and its communication) will be:
    • The provision of long (multi-decadal) time series of RS-enabled EBVs, e.g. from the Sentinel-satellites of the European Copernicus programme as well as the Landsat 8 mission of the NASA/USGS Sustainable Land Imaging (SLI) Program. Greater harmonisation satellite technology will in turn enhance data continuity from EO satellites, such as the Landsat and Sentinels, bringing consistency to information provided for decision makers, thereby strengthening the role of RS-enabled EBVs in policy making. EO data continuity trough the use of results is the main policy the roadmap aims to impact.
    • The production of authoritative documents that convey key information to policy makers: By the end of the project a more practical guide for users of RS-EBVs will be written in the form of a User’s Handbook for RS-EBVs in Terrestrial Ecosystems, which will consist of a technical version for scientists and a practical version for policy makers and their advisors.


  1. Putting in place a communication mechanism to bridge the gap between science and policy: This will engage international experts in the field of biodiversity and ecosystem level monitoring, biodiversity related policy as well as remote sensing experts. Effectively, this will ensure consensus building and that the project outputs have been reviewed to the highest possible standard before release in the public domain. Communication outlets include a project brochure, website, newsletters, several webinars and social media channels such as Twitter.