Earth Observation for Monitoring, Reporting, and Verification within Environmental Land Management Policy
The main aim of the new agricultural scheme, Environmental Land Management, in England is to reward landowners based on their provision of 'public goods' while achieving the goals of the 25 Year Environment Plan and commitment to net zero emission by 2050. Earth Observation (EO) satellites appear to offer an unprecedented opportunity in the process of monitoring, reporting, and verification (MRV) of this scheme. In this study, we worked with ecologists to determine the habitat–species
... ips for five wildlife species in the Surrey Hills 'Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty' (AONB), and this information was used to examine the extent to which EO satellite imagery, particularly very high resolution (VHR) imagery, could be used for habitat assessment, via visual interpretation and automated methods. We show that EO satellite products at 10 m resolution and other geospatial datasets enabled the identification and location of broadly suitable habitat for these species and the use of VHR imagery (at 1–4 m spatial resolution) allowed valuable insights for remote assessment of habitat qualities and quantity. Hence, at a fine scale, we obtained additional habitats such as scrub, hedges, field margins, woodland and tree characteristics, and agricultural practices that offer an effective source of information for sustainable land management. The opportunities and limitations of this study are discussed, and we conclude that there is considerable scope for it to offer valuable information for land management decision-making and as support and evidence for MRV for incentive schemes.