Biological diversity, also referred to as biodiversity, is about describing the number, variety and change of living organisms. It is directly related to ecosystems, which provide us with clean air, water and soils. They regulate the climate, recycle nutrients and provide us with food. Loss of biodiversity risks to disturb the vulnerable balance that is needed for the well functioning of ecosystems.
VITO tries to fully exploit the potential of remote sensing for biodiversity monitoring. It builds long term relationships with both end users and leading scientific institutes doing field based research.
Within the Local Environmental Monitoring team, our focus is to develop remote sensing indicators based on local sensors in a way they can be operational on a large scale once new sensors become available (Sentinel II, Enmap,...). More specific, we have been working on detailed mapping and conservation status assessment of protected ecosystems and environments, among which Natura 2000 sites (e.g., heathlands and dune vegetation). Data fusion techniques of hyperspectral and LiDAR data were used to map tree species in forests. Furthermore, we have worked on the detection and monitoring of invasive tree species within and outside Europe. Finally, we have expertise in radiative transfer modelling to estimate biophysical and biochemical variables of vegetation.
Left : APEX quicklook
Middle : tree structure information at different height levels (2, 5 and 10m) obtained via LiDAR data
Right : tree species map obtained via automatic classification of LiDAR and hyperspectral imagery