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Earth Observation meets in-situ biodiversity monitoring: The OBSGESSION project has been launched

New Horizon Europe project will reveal the drivers of biodiversity loss, pinpoint important indicators of ecosystem health, and inform sustainability policy

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Terrestrial and freshwater biodiversity is declining at an alarming rate due to factors such as intensification of land use and climate change.

To help protect and preserve ecosystems, January 2024 marked the launch of a  new research project, OBSGESSION (Observation of Ecosystem Changes for Action) , jointly funded under the EU programme Horizon Europe, the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the Swiss Federation. Coordinated by the Finnish Environmental Institute (Syke), OBSGESSION aims to reveal the drivers of biodiversity loss, pinpoint important indicators of ecosystem health, and inform sustainability policy. The project will work closely with the European Space Agency to operationalize Earth Observations in biodiversity monitoring and co-design the actions needed to leverage the future satellite missions to fully support Earth System Science.

The consortium partners of OBSGESSION held their first project meeting, laying the foundations of the four year research endeavour, in  the end of January 2024,  in Tuusula, Finland. Throughout the duration of the project, the joint mission for the newly formed consortium is to combine biodiversity data from different sources, such as Earth Observation and in-situ research, and develop cutting-edge ecological models for identifying drivers of biodiversity change. These will be streamlined into comprehensive data products that can be used for biodiversity monitoring and management in both terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems. 

"There has been great development of EBVs especially related to the species monitoring schemes, while the potential of remote sensing in biodiversity monitoring has not been fully exploited. OBSGESSION will work closely with European Space Agency to operationalize Earth Observations in  biodiversity monitoring, and co-design the future actions that are needed to leverage the future satellite missions to fully support Earth System Science." says research professor Petteri Vihervaara (Syke), coordinator of the project.

The project will also spearhead an innovative approach for assessing Essential Biodiversity Variables (EBVs) and their resilience to errors. Through purposely propagating error into biodiversity metrics and comparing the resulting metrics with others using more precise estimates, the EBV pilots aim to investigate model uncertainty and identify approaches that are more sensitive. Thus, they will inform policy and management about optimal production of robust EBVs, and their key thresholds for ecosystem functioning and conservation.

Through its pilots, methodological assessments, data stream integration, and by investigating land use cover changes across Europe, OBSGESSION will help improve our understanding of ecosystem vulnerability across a range of specific habitat types, identify drivers and pressures to ecosystem change and improve planning and prioritisation of restoration measures.

More information about OBSGESSION can be found on the project website. Find us also on social media on X and LinkedIn


OBSGESSION receives funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme under grant agreement No.101134954. Views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Research Executive Agency (REA). Neither the EU nor the European Research Executive Agency (REA) can be held responsible for them.

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