portfolio web templates

Copernicus for
Natura 2000

Using satellite images to improve the operation of protected site networks:
A prototype service for monitoring habitats in Natura 2000 sites with Copernicus data

Protected sites

Natura 2000

The Natura 2000 (N2000 or N2K) network was established in 1992 to designate nature protection areas in the territory of the European Union. On land it consists of Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs) designated by the Habitats and Birds Directives. In total 27,000 sites represent around 18 percent of land in EU countries.

Monitoring capabilities


Copernicus is the European programme for monitoring the Earth from space. Data is collected from a range of different sources, including a fleet of satellites and in-situ sensors. It is made freely and openly available to all users. The data is processed to provide reliable and up-to-date information products to support end user and downstream services.  


Delivering actionable results for N2000 sites

To maintain and improve the N2000 network it is necessary to monitor and report on the habitats and species present in each of the sites. The Copernicus land theme provides a range of products including some directly related to N2000 sites and grasslands. For effective management and to address pressures easy access to temporally detailed information and indicators is required. 


The project will develop a service to support the monitoring and management of Natura 2000 site with a focus on grasslands


Process EO data to generate land cover / land use (LC / LU) information 

To develop a processing chain using recent high spatial resolution Copernicus Sentinel 1 and 2 EO data for mapping the current state and changes of LC / LU at N2000 sites. A geospatial database will be developed in which the products from tasks 1 and 2 can be stored and be permanently accessible via an interactive web tool (task 3).


Process historical satellite data to generate a consistent time series

To process historical EO data, prior to the Copernicus Sentinel era, and creation a consistent multi-decadal time series of LC / LU changes in N2000 sites. Using Landsat data the period from 1992 to 2016 will be addressed using a backward mapping approach and the results included in the web tool (task 3).


Creation of consistent indicators and interactive web tool

An interactive, public website will be developed providing access to the information (maps and statistics) generated in tasks 1 and 2, including a number of indicators that are consistent with the EU Habitats Directive and the European Commission Environmental Compliance Assurance.


Prospective study

Implement a research study exploring the feasibility of extending the N2000 site monitoring from LC / LU changes to more specialised indicators of grassland condition and management, such as intensification and abandonment.



Engage with a wide range of stakeholders, including amongst others the EC, the European Environment Agency, national authorities, non-governmental organisations and European citizens. Make available the key outcomes and results of the pilot project to raise awareness and elicit feedback.


Project management, client liaison and allocation of resources

Quality control and quality assurance of the different deliverables, including an assessment of project-related risks and possible mitigation strategies.

Project team

The project team has been awarded a service contract from DG Environment. The project team is supported by a steering committee of the European Environment Agency, Joint Research Centre & DG Agriculture.


space4environment sàrl
48, rue Gabriel Lippmann
L-6947 Niederanven


Email: info@cop4n2k.eu