Groundwater‐dependent ecosystems (GDEs) provide multiple ecosystem services for humankind and are globally at risk due to unsustainable groundwater extraction and climate change. Copernicus Sentinel-2 data are lending a hand in establishing these ecosystems. The Ziziphus lotus arborescent matorral in south‐east Spain, is a priority conservation habitat in the European Union (Habitat Code 5220*, Directive 92/43/EEC), which is currently highly threatened and in decline. This ecosystem is one of the few terrestrial GDEs in European drylands. Changes in the quantity, quality, and distribution of groundwater affect GDEs especially in drylands. A research performed by scientists at the Universities of Almería and Granada, in Spain, proposed the use of remote sensing methods to map the spatial distributions of shrubs and fractures as a means to identify GDEs in drylands. You can read the full article here:

The research done by ECOPOTENTIAL partner DELTARES in the Wadden Sea has been reported in the ESA website “Sentinel On Line”. It reports about the use of 3D-biogeophyiscal process-based or Bayesian Networks - which are probabilistic models - to investigate ecological structures behind shifting trends and to induce management strategies, and the importance of using Sentinel data to feed the model as they provide information at high spatial and temporal resolution . Alex Ziemba, researcher at Deltares, explains: "Data from the Copernicus Sentinels are bringing critical information, useful for various aspects of coastal monitoring – Copernicus Sentinel-1 for erosion and shoreline tracking, while Copernicus Sentinel-3 for ocean colour products."

You can read the full article here:

caption of the image:
Title: Delft-3D model gridding within the Wadden Sea
Description: An overlay of the Delft-3D model grid utilised for investigations of the Wadden Sea. The grid extends in the depth direction in 12 dynamic layers dependant upon the depth of each of the grid cells.
Copyright: Model grid generated and utilised by Deltares

Our latest newsletter is out! It presents highlights of our recent work: events we attended during the last months, the latest scientific publications, and news on the models and tools in the Virtual Laboratory. If you are interested where you can get in touch with us, you also find future events that we will attend, as well as science schools and other activities relating to our project.

Read the newsletter online or download the PDF.

We are happy to announce the release of the second edition of the book: “SPACED: USING EARTH OBSERVATION TO PROTECT NATURAL LANDSCAPES”, edited by Cristina Domingo and Joan Maso (CREAF). The book describes how Earth observation is used for monitoring and studying ecosystems in the 24 protected areas investigated in the H2020 project ECOPOTENTIAL. It describes a collection of scenarios where Earth observation data is essential, accompanied by visual maps covering the whole extension of each protected area. The main purpose of this volume is to illustrate the capabilities of remote sensing and how this technique is being applied in many ways to monitor several different aspects of ecosystems and environmental conditions. Each type of ecosystem (mountain, arid or coastal and marine) presents different challenges that are addressed through different Earth observation and data analysis approaches by the ECOPOTENTIAL researchers.
We trust that this book illustrates the extent to which Earth observations by satellites have become a crucial tool for obtaining a global view of natural ecosystems, as well as for monitoring ongoing changes and supporting knowledge-based conservation and management strategies.

You can download the book here.

Our project has made it on the Sentinel news website of ESA once again. The article features Samaria National Park on Crete, Greece, where we use Sentinel1 and 2 imagery to map the habitat for species of high conservation value, as endemic lizards. The earth observation data are combined with species observation data to determine areas in the National Park that are more likely to provide suitable habitat for the lizards, through species distribution modelling. The results can then be used by the park management to improve decision-making as well as monitoring on the ground.


Read the article here.

All ECOPOTENTIAL protected areas encapsulate fascinating stories about their past, present and future, which fuel the project’s research. Telling those stories and sharing  passion for the work we are doing is one of the goals of ECOPOTENTIAL. Now you have the chance to learn more about Har HaNegev Reserve in Israel through a new storymap developed by project partner UNEP-WCMC.

The Negev Desert provides habitat for very diverse plants and animals, while humans have also been travelling and living in the desert for thousands of years. This can create challenges: “Sustainability - or meeting the development needs of people without undermining the integrity of the ecological systems that make human life possible and worthwhile - is the most challenging task of the 21st century“ explains Daniel Orenstein, Associate Professor at Technion, the Israel Institute of Technology the background of ECOPOTENTIAL’s work. “In this storymap, we introduce the amazing biodiversity and ecosystem services of the Negev Desert, alongside its colorful history and current status of human development in the region, to reflect our truly interdisciplinary, policy-relevant research in search of sustainability for the region, its biodiversity and its people.”

Explore the storymap here: Protecting Arid Ecosystems in Populated Areas

Background information: Har HaNegev

Picture Credit: Haim Singer

The mapping of natural and semi-natural habitats is increasingly required in environmental policies, as well as in spatial planning, land management, and the designation of protected areas. Habitats are effective indicators of biodiversity and their periodic and consistent monitoring, in terms of extent, status, and changes can provide an effective tool for policy makers engaged in the conservation plans. This is in accordance with the GEO strategies planned for 2016–2025 period and the attainment of SDG 15 for preserving biodiversity and ecosystem sustainability.

Remote sensing data and techniques offer significant opportunities for long-term habitats monitoring because of the availability of a large amount of multi-temporal data from past and current spaceborne missions with continuity provided by planned future missions. Routinely, mapping can be generated and intra-annual and inter-annual changes quantified providing synoptic spatial views of expansive landscapes and regions from the integration of remote sensed (RS) data with in situ and ancillary data.

Due to the great relevance and interest in this theme, there are a great deal of questions to be answered concerning, for example, the best methods and standards to use in acquiring and processing data, habitat classification terms and systems, as well as the reliability of the maps produced depending on the scale adopted, this Special Issue is inviting manuscripts on the following topics:

  • RS data and techniques for identification, mapping, and assessment of different habitat types, their conditions and/or conservation, at different spatial and temporal scales;
  • Remote sensing and habitats characterization for different marine and terrestrial environments, from coastal areas to mountain regions, from large, homogenous, and spatially continuous units to highly fragmented, heterogeneous and spatially discontinuous landscapes (e.g., mosaics);
  • Satellite time series analysis for long-term habitat mapping;
  • Habitat change maps from RS data;
  • Integration of RS data with in situ data and expert knowledge;
  • Habitat taxonomies and semantics in a framework of integration of RS data and in situ data;
  • Indicators from RS data for the habitat modeling.

Guest Editors:

Dr. Cristina Tarantino (CNR)

Dr. Maria Adamo (CNR)

Dr. Valeria Tomaselli (CNR)


Deadline for manuscript submission: 31 January 2021

Find out more:

Ecosystem models are fundamental for a deeper understanding of associated spatiotemporal dynamics. They also support the forecasting of ecological responses to future climate and land use changes, thus supporting relevant decision-making processes. Ecosystem modelling is challenging, given the complexity of natural ecosystems, since models need to consider several levels of environmental predictors and interplaying mechanistic processes.

 Earth observation (EO) data and methods serve as a cost-efficient alternative to in-situ data collection at numerous spatial and temporal scales. EO data are now an essential component in ecological modelling. For example, EO data are used to (i) provide variable estimation to implement ecological models; (ii) test, validate and verify the predictions of ecological models; and (iii) update or adjust process model predictions. These modelling and implementation challenges are investigated by several international projects and initiatives, including ECOPOTENTIAL, in work package 6, EO-based Ecosystem Modelling, and the GEO Global Ecosystem Initiative.

 Motivated by the strong integration and new capabilities, this Special Issue is inviting manuscripts on the following topics:

 - direct comparisons of EO with in-situ data;

 - assessment of the added value of EO to ecosystem models;

 - interoperability topics, for example spatial and temporal scale issues, derived from the incorporation of EO in ecosystem models;

 - uncertainty propagation of EO-derived inputs in ecosystem models;

 - benefits by the EO assimilation and side-effects in the designed processing chains;

 - adjustments in ecosystem models to better integrate EO inputs;

 - the new capacity being developed and explored by the installation and operation of the Data and Information Access Services (DIASs).

Guest Editors:

Dr. Ioannis Manakos (CERTH)

Prof. Duccio Rocchini (University of Trento)

Prof. Giorgos Mountrakis (State University of New York)

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 September 2020

Find out more:


Our project’s work in Gran Paradiso National Park has featured on the Sentinel news website of ESA. The article explores how we use Sentinel2 images in ECOPOTENTIAL to map the changes in mountain grasslands and snow cover in Italy’s oldest National Park. Both earth observation and field data feed into analyses to determine how the extent of the grasslands changed and which drivers cause this, with the aim to then develop ways to preserve crucial habitat for Alpine ibex, chamois and other species. The results of this joint work by the park managers and scientific staff helps inform decisions on how to manage the Protected Area in the future.


Read the complete article here

After Split, Thessaloniki, Chania, Dubrovnik, and Prague, this year's SPLIT RS is taking us to Bolzano, Italy. It runs from June 3-8, 2019 and is hosted by ECOPOTENTIAL partner Eurac Research. The school focusing on "Environmental monitoring in mountain areas and land-cover dynamics" covers different types of remote sensing, including a variety of sensors, as well as different methodological approaches, and includes a field trip to the Dolomites.

Registration for the 6th SPLIT Remote Sensing Summer School is now open. The school invites both professionals and graduate students to register for six days of intensive learning. SPLIT RS covers the participation fee for two graduate students from Central or Eastern Europe based on their needs (see Registration tab on the website). Deadline to apply for coverage of the fees is 15 March 2019.

Learn more:


Insights from Earth Observation of Protected Areas

On Sept 27th 2018  ECOPOTENTIAL  has been presented at the European Parliament during the event "Science for Post 2020 Environmental Targets - Insights from Earth Observation of Protected Areas, co-organised by ECOPOTENTIAL, IUCN and UNEP/WCMC, and hosted by MEPs Ricardo Serrão Santos and Sirpa Pietikäinen. The event brought to the attention of the Parliament the findings and recommendations on the conservation of natural ecosystems and the management of European protected areas that emerged in the ECOPOTENTIAL project, with the aim of contributing to providing the scientific knowledge needed to define the future EU policy framework on the conservation of biodiversity and natural ecosystems.

The position expressed by the ECOPOTENTIAL project has been presented during the meeting as “back ground document”, now made available in this booklet entitled:   “Science for post 2020 Environmental targets: Insights from Earth Observation of Protected Areas”. This document represents the view of the ECOPOTENTIAL project on the use of Earth Observations for improving nature conservation policies.

Here is the document


ECOPOTENTIAL will be present at the GEO week with the side event: “Detecting and Analysing Changes and Future Scenarios in Protected Areas: from ECOPOTENTIAL to GEO ECO”  (Monday 29 October 2018 room C2:- 11:00-13:00) chaired by Palma Blonda (CNR) and will contribute to the EUROGEOSS Stand with posters and videos ( Furthher ECOPOTENTIAL related presentations will be hosted in other side events.

The complete programme of the side events is available at

You can download the presentations here:GEO XV Plenary – ECOPOTENTIAL_GEO ECO workshop

Pisa, 28 September, 2018

The 2018 edition of the Bright Festival, the Tuscan edition of the European Researchers’ night festival, has been a great success at the CNR research campus in Pisa, Italy. The programme included laboratories for kids, guided tours to the research facilities, seminars, concerts and a show alternating theatre pieces and “TED-like” talks. One of them was an ECOPOTENTIAL related talk by Silvia Giamberini entitled: A Journey from Sky to Land”, about changes in ecosystems in the Anthropocene and the use of Earth’s observations for the study of natural ecosystems in protected areas. Please, you can find here the related link (in Italian):

How does the ECOPOTENTIAL web-browser works? Find out at the ECOPOTENTIAL web map server instructional video here: (video n. 10). The video has been released to be shown at the XV GEO Plenary Meeting in Kyoto, Japan, Oct 29th – Nov 2nd. It shows the data available and functionalities of the web map server archive which delivers all satellite data and metadata produced within the project. From the web browser, data can be displayed, analysed and directly downloaded in several GIS formats.


By Ioannis Manakos (on behalf of the Organizing Committee)

Find here the report of the last joint EARSeL LULC and NASA LCLUC Workshop, held in Chania inJuly:
The workshop has also hosted the ECOPOTENTIAL photo exhibition where, beside the 200+ conference participants, it has been visited by over 500 people per day.


Stuttgart, 13 September 2018  

We are pleased to announce that Joan Masó received the Open Geospatial Consortium OGC’s 2018 Gardels Award. It is also a success of ECOPOTENTIAL project.
The award has been received by Joan on 13 September 2018, at the meeting of the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) Technical Committee in Stuttgart, Germany. The Gardels Award is presented each year to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to advancing OGC's vision of fully integrating geospatial information into the world's information systems. Congratulations to Joan Masó awarded the 2018 Gardels Award for being ‘the hardest working OGC member out there.’
As already reported in the announcing email, “in all this work, Joan has demonstrated the principles, humility, and dedication in promoting spatial technologies to address the needs of humanity that characterized Kenn Gardels’ career and life. Joan exemplifies the highest values of the OGC.
Mark Reichardt, President and CEO of OGC, commented: “Each year, one member representative of the Consortium is acknowledged by his or her peers and the OGC Board of Directors for their personal excellence, unwavering commitment, and substantial contributions to the OGC mission. Congratulations to Joan Maso on his selection for this award. Kenn would be proud.””
Congratulations (again and again)!


Bruxelles, 27 September 2018

ECOPOTENTIAL has been presented at the EUROPEAN Parliament during the event "Science for Post 2020 Environmental Targets - Insights from Earth Observation of Protected Areas", on Sept 27th.
The event has been chaired by MEPs Ricardo Serrão Santos and Sirpa Pietikäinen and has been organized in collaboration with the NGO EBCD, which serves as the secretariat of the Intergroup on Climate Change, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development of the European Parliament.
The event brought to the attention of Parliament the findings and recommendations on the conservation of natural ecosystems and the management of European protected areas that emerged in the ECOPOTENTIAL project, with the aim of contributing to providing the scientific knowledge needed to define the future EU policy framework on the conservation of biodiversity and natural ecosystems.
The project coordinator, Antonello Provenzale, and Fiona Danks, Senior Programme Officer for Science of UN Environment/WCMC, presented the project and recommendations to update the European legislation on the management of natural ecosystems based on the results of research activities.
In the discussion following the presentation, the sustainability and effectiveness of European research on biodiversity has been discussed: Possible actions may be the application of the ECOPOTENTIAL methodologies to other protected areas and in particular to the network of NATURA 2000  sites, the need of the COPs on biodiversity and climate to work together and the need of improving the knowledge transfer to policy makers, to protected areas managers and to the wider society, also delivering training and improving the integration of data bases and the link to other networks.
Also, the importance of the contribution of ECOPOTENTIAL to the EUROGEOSS Initiative has been highlighted.

Here you can read the policy brief background document


Lingen (Germany), 25 September 2018

Advances in nature conservation using Earth observation data concern the whole society! On 25th of September, Osnabrück University of Applied  Sciences and IHK Osnabrück - Emsland - Grafschaft Bentheim hosted a short presentation event on scientific projects from the region Osnabrück/Lingen (Germany) and their implications for enterprises and the society.
ECOPOTENTIAL was presented by Niels Hellwig. Reference to this event (in German):


Brussels, EU Parliament (Members’ salon), 22 November 2018

The new COPERNICUS4REGIONS publication will be launched on November 22nd 2018 at the Members’ salon of the EU Parliament in Brussels.
The publication collects success stories about the use of Copernicus data, and Sentinel data in particular, for concrete needs of regional policy making and/or enforcement, ideally on regional responses to EU directives. It describes sound and mature EO-based solutions that effectively respond toregional challenges. four ECOPOTENTIAL – related articles, namely about the use of Earth Observation in the EODESM System and for the management of the Gran Paradiso NP (IT), the Wadden Sea (NL) and Samaria NP (GR) protected areas, have been selected and included  in the COPERNICUS4REGIONS book.


Birmingham, 4-7 September 2018

The UK National Earth Observation Conference 2018 – hosted by the Remote Sensing & Photogrammetry Society; the National Centre for Earth Observation and the Centre for Earth Observation Instrumentation – took place in Birmingham Edgbaston from 4th – 7th September.
The conference was focused around Earth Observation science, technology and applications Into the Future. The programme included exhibitions and poster sessions, a school conference (7th September), plus plenary and parallel sessions.
The NCEO, CEOI and RSPSoc hosted the UK National Earth Observation Conference from 4-7 September at Birmingham University, with the topic “Earth Observation into the future”. The declared aim has been to deliver a conference which attracts a significant gathering of the UK EO community across research, government and industry. It is clear the involvement of the Earth Observation community in planning the content of the conference, and designed sessions to encompass all aspects of Earth Observation – science, technology, and applications.
Some ECOPOTENTIAL project poster were presented; they coverered the project background and structure, and included three case studies, around seasonal wetlands, nitrogen deposition and freshwater catchments.

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