Ireland’s National Ecosystem and Ecosystem Services Pilot

This project commissioned by the National Parks and Wildlife Service set out to establish a framework for a National Ecosystem Assessment for Ireland. By assessing and valuing the known benefits of ecosystem services it is possible to demonstrate how Ireland’s biodiversity affects the economy, society and future development opportunities. It also demonstrates that conserving biodiversity and healthy ecosystems gives multiple benefits to society.

On this project Environment Systems used its SENCE (Spatial Evidence for Natural Capital Evaluation) tool because it can accept a wide range of data sources at different scales and deliver outputs for a variety of ecosystem services. A ‘Habitat Asset Register’ and 8 Ecosystem Services maps were created from over 300 spatial datasets with inputs from a number of different stakeholders. These included organisations likely to be involved in implementing projects to restore ecosystems in Ireland, people with existing knowledge of environmental and societal issues and policy, and technical experts with knowledge of relevant data and projects. All the outputs from the project are available for download from the National Parks and Wildlife website.

A web based ‘Story Map’ provides an explanation of supporting ecosystem service information. Each ecosystem service map can be viewed along side an explanation of what the service is how it was produced and how it can be interpreted and used. The Story Map can be viewed here.

The full report on the research has been published and can be downloaded here.

Satellites to Improve Agri-Food Systems

This is a two year, collaborative R&D project which aims to develop applications of Sentinel, Earth observation (EO) derived information products for environmental compliance and productivity monitoring in agriculture. The team comprises Ecometrica, Environment Systems and Rothamsted Research. The project is funded by Innovate UK, the UK’s Innovation Agency, the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the industry partners.

The focus of the research is the development of processing methods, calibration, validation and demonstration applications that can be scaled-up to run across large geographical areas on a continual basis. The data output is aimed at the specialist/expert users in national agencies and businesses focused on food production and food security markets.

Environment Systems is providing advanced automated Sentinel-1 data processing with a direct feed into Ecometrica’s award winning earth observation platform. Rothamstead Research is already using the data for ground testing and evaluation focused on soil moisture and crop productivity.

Work is also underway to introduce the Environment Systems Sentinel-2 processing chain, promising indices such as NDVI. The project runs until August 2018.

Data Services Update – July 2017

At the time of writing, early July 2017, our open Data Services platform has just received an update. When the portal was originally launched, earlier in the year, there was only a free data option. This enables those who sign up, to view and download free and open composite imagery of Great Britain derived from the Sentinel 1b radar satellite. A user can also view and download time series and feature analysis data based on representative points within the four most recent seasons.

We are now providing a ‘Premium’ service option that builds on our expertise to deliver not only imagery but also change and feature metrics. As a premium user you can select precise areas using the map based tools or upload a shapefile and then select the dates of interest. If you need to be able to track change over time for a particular area or region this is the way to do it.

The Data Services platform also provides access for Enterprise customers. We work with customers to provide consultancy and direct access to the platform’s data processing API. The platform roadmap includes access to Sentinel 2 data, multiple projection support and of course wider coverage. Go there now.

Environment Systems has recently been approved as a G-Cloud 9 supplier, which will make any buying decision for public sector organisations even easier.


Environment Systems is leading ‘EO4cultivar’ an international collaboration project with partners in the UK, Peru and Colombia.
Earth observation (EO) can provide timely field scale crop observations at regional and national scales for use in the high value South American agricultural market. By developing the ability to easily disseminate and incorporate EO data into local and national management practices, EO4cultivar will have real impacts on improving agricultural production and food security in Peru and Colombia.

Sources of free and commercial satellite imagery abound, but currently there isn’t the capability to process the data necessary to deliver national agricultural data services in South America. EO4cultivar will work with commercial and government stakeholders in Peru and Colombia to deliver information frequently and rapidly within the growing season via trusted channels. A cloud-based processing and storage infrastructure will be developed to deliver data services (analysis ready data), such as field-level time series imagery to both monitor performance and target management. Data services will also be used for crop identification to support biosecurity, resource planning and market intelligence needs.

The project is funded under the UK Space Agency’s International Partnerships Programme, a £150M multi- year programme which will use people’s space knowledge, expertise and capability to provide a sustainable, economic or societal benefit to undeveloped nations and developing economies.

DFMS – Uganda

Environment Systems is part of a team led by Rhea that is building a new Environment Early Warning and Mitigation Platform (EWP) that will enable an integrated chain of services and models called DFMS (Drought and Flood Mitigation Service) focused on improving sustainability in the Karamoja region of Uganda.

DFMS aims to provide accurate flood and drought predictions to farmers so that they are able to use that information to adjust their farming and livestock activities, reducing the losses they would otherwise suffer from flood and drought impacts. It will improve forecasting and decision making on resource use, input distribution, and timing of interventions in the face of increasing climatic threats.

Specifically DFMS will be supporting smallholding farmers producing staple crops in forecasting and real-time data collection. Water catchment monitoring is also an important feature as water is so important for livelihood, food security and health.

A strong technical team including AA International, UK Met Office, HR Wallingford, Databasix and Pixalytics will work together on the project. Environment Systems’ expertise in Earth observation, and data services will be utilised in the work packages concerned with platform implementation. This covers not only cloud based processing but also mobile and community platforms which will be important to monitoring, evaluation and learning as the project unfolds.

This project involves close collaboration with the Government of Uganda – Ministry of Water and Environment, local NGOs
– AgriTechTalk (Uganda), Mercy Corps (Uganda) and commercial interests – Kakira Sugar Company (Uganda) and Green Dreams (Kenya).

The project is funded under the UK Space Agency’s International Partnerships Programme, a £150M multi- year programme which will use people’s space knowledge, expertise and capability to provide a sustainable, economic or societal benefit to undeveloped nations and developing economies.

Turkey’s LPIS

Environment Systems has provided one of four ‘experts’ for the external quality control of a project to create a Land Parcel Identification System (LPIS) for Turkey. The project has now reached a critical stage. A complete set of orthophotos has been provided for the whole of Turkey, forming a huge dataset of over 50,000 individual images and almost one petabyte of data.

A team of over 200 digitisers is working with the orthoimagery in a huge exercise to create a seamless geodatabase of reference parcels (agricultural blocks) covering the whole of Turkey’s agricultural surface and non-agricultural areas, in total almost 784K sq km. It is the single largest land cover digitising exercise in the whole of Europe.

Typical Turkish landscape outside Ankara
Our man on the ground, Chris Finch, is working in a small External Quality Control team (EQC), whose role is to ensure that the data provided meets EU JRC criteria for the quality requirements for an LPIS. The work involves evaluating a sample of all reference parcels digitised across the whole of Turkey, including automatic, thematic and visual controls.

Turkey is a huge and agriculturally diverse country. There is a large arable and cereal sector (including rice and tobacco), major citrus fruit, wine and olive production, and with large areas of nut (hazelnut, walnut, almond and pistachio) and tea production. There are also extensive high biodiversity grasslands and forests. Mapping and classifying this diversity presents many challenges, especially within a limited timescale, and provides Environment Systems with a set of unique skills ideal for future land cover digitising projects anywhere in the world.

Spatial Analysis for Area Statements

In 2016 Environment Systems was involved in a pilot mapping project for Natural Resources Wales (NRW) as part of its SoNaRR (State of Natural Resources Report) initiative. SoNaRR aims to be the first country-wide assessment of the health and resilience of ecosystems and the first assessment of the extent to which Wales is sustainably managing its natural resources. SoNaRR will also confirm the link between natural resources and the 7 well-being goals set out in the ‘Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015.’

SoNaRR requires specialist spatial analysis of natural resources and ecosystems, in terms of both ecological resilience and the ecosystem services received from them. Under the new Environment Act there is a requirement for regional Area Statements to set out information to help people implement the Welsh Government Natural Resources policy. Following the pilot in 2016, Environment Systems and its partners embarked upon the next phase to expand the required spatial analysis element of this work. We are producing a framework and contribute to the Area Statements through the use of a number of defined use cases and scenarios to assess the resilience of natural resources and the opportunities for their management when faced with a range of threats. The methodology applied to the Area Statement spatial analysis starts from the basic premise that every parcel of land (or water) in Wales exerts an influence on every ecosystem service delivered. This is based on four main factors:

The land cover or habitat type and its condition
The geology and soil type underlying the land
The landscape context (e.g., on a steep slope or valley bottom)
How it is managed, i.e. none at all, little, intensive, extensive

This is an approach we have been pioneering elsewhere both in the UK and Ireland. Rather than focus on any one tool for the production of a specific set of maps, this project will seek to identify and formulate a framework that will help decision makers to take a holistic, ecosystem approach to the environment and to highlight the most beneficial, current options available to them.

Finally we have been commissioned to to incorporate the output from newly available datasets to create an ‘exposure mask’ for the whole of Wales. This covers frost risk, wind blow and salt spray in the coastal zone.