Environment is one of the main concerns of the European GMES (‘Global Monitoring for Environment and Security’) initiative for the implementation of Earth observation based information services. Environmental applications of Earth observation data focuse on detection and monitoring of environmental changes occurring above, on or beneath the surface of the Earth, whether clearly associated with man’s influence or not. In most cases, it consists of imagery based categorization of basic elements like air, land or water in quantitative and qualitative manner (e.g. land cover / land use monitoring) aiming to support assessment of the impacts of environmental changes on the ecosystems and their essential services (e.g. biodiversity).

Considering such a wide context, environmental applications comprise the most of the practical Earth observation data aplications and thus partly overlaps with many other application sectors listed. That is why environment applications are also one of the key activities of our company. Following examples of environmental domain applications outline areas taking advantage of recent remore sensing technology development and at the same time it also lists some of Gisat activities in this domain.


Land Use / Land Cover Monitoring

Land Cover / Land Use Monitoring is a base application for many other subsequent environmental assessment and modelling tasks. Landscape cover – visible layer of the material contents of landscape, identified by means of the physiognomic and morphostructural features of landscape objects – is well registered on Earth observation data, so they are a valuable information source about land cover for different monitoring programmes. More, data on land cover can be linked to the ones on land use and vice versa. In regional dimension recognition of land cover is close to basic categories of land use corresponding also to basic functional features and spatial organisation of cultural landscape as such. Land cover maps therefore became a suitable basis for further spatial analyses of landscape, decision-making and landscape planning tasks. Also, use of Earth observation data with various resolution allows the cost efficient top-down scaling approach to identification of ‘hotspots’ on European, national, regional or local level.

Land cover / land use can be mapped on different level of thematic detail using ad-hoc categorization focusing strictly on particular user needs (e.g. clutter data for the telecom or radio planning industries) or using de-facto standard nomenclature (e.g. CORINE Land Cover, FAO LCCS) for multi-purpose usage. Recently, standard Land monitoring service is even selected as one of the GMES Fast Track Services for pre-operational implementation on European level. Gisat has long term experience in land cover / land use monitoring and mapping for various purposes being also involved from the very beginning in the European CLC project development (e.g. I&CLC2000, CLC2006) as well as being service provider in ESA GSE Land related projects (e.g. SAGE, GUS).

Thematic services:
  • user requirements specification and nomenclature setup
  • optimal earth observation data selection
  • production of standard or custom land cover/land use status maps on various scales (local, regional, national, continental)
  • production of standard or custom land cover/land use change maps on various scales (local, regional, national, continental)
  • crop rotation monitoring
  • small landscape units (SLU) monitoring


Environmental Accounting

Land cover is a suitable indicator of changes in landscape state, their rate and quality. Land cover represents the materialized projection of natural spatial assets in combination with man-made (artificial objects) or recreated (cultivated objects) in landscape. Study of the changes, above all in the context of a temporal development is necessary for the analysis of causes and consequences of natural and artificial processes, impact assessment, maintenance the ecological stability and biodiversity and its observation in decision-making and planning spheres. Analysis of the land cover changes can help to find out and to study the connections with socio-economical and political interventions of the man in given part of the territory.
GISAT is active in domain of environmental accounting mainly in the frame of Land and Ecosystem Accounts (LEAC) framework development support for the Environmental Environmental Agency and Eurostat, but also for national level projects.

Thematic services:

  • status and change land accounts creation (e.g. stock, flows, net change…)
  • change typology setup
  • change intensity maps creation
  • change ‘hot-spot’ assesment
  • link creation to socio-economic statistics
  • enabling spatial insight into studied phenomena assessment


Environmental Indicator Development

Environmental indicators tell us about the environment and they have three basic functions: simplification, quantification and communication. They measure the state and pressures on the environment. Their aim is to raise awareness of the environment and show progress towards sustainable development. The indicators combine data across a range of environmental measures. They do not relate solely to spatial data, but Earth observation data or EO-based information as e.g. land cover is important input for their creation. Gisat has long term experience in environmental indicators development mainly from the work for the European Topic Centre supporting European Environmental Agency in the domain of terrestrial environment. Also activities related to agro-environmental indicators has been carried out nationaly (e.g. DAIFOR project).

Thematic services:

  • indicators set selection or definition
  • indicators development and creation like e.g.:
    • land take and land uptake
    • urban sprawl and soil sealing density
    • fragmentation of land and ecosystems by transport and urban
    • pressure around designated areas
  • target assessment


Water Management Support

Water is emerging as the commodity of the future and therefore sustainable water resources management is becoming more and more hot issue worldwide. In Europe, this fact is reflected by the European Water Framework Directive (WFD). In response to the WFD demands, services addressing geo-information needs related are developed under GMES programme as Earth observation data (and spatial data in general) can contribute a lot into this process. Gisat is also active in this domain, developing and producing core products as the basis of customised end-user applications supporting the national and local implementation of the WFD. Beside the general spatial information provision, the main focus is on rapid production of crop level land cover data, subsequent support of dedicated non-point pollution modelling (e.g. MONERIS NPP Scanner) and delivery of data and statistics qualifying and quantifying nitrate inputs into river basins.

Thematic services:

  • spatial data provision supporting WFD
  • rapid crop level qualitative and quantitative landcover / landuse information
  • water pollution modelling (in cooperation with our modelling partners) as:
    • Risk Analysis
    • Pollution Potentials
    • Status of Discharge
    • Analysis of Sources and Scenario Calculation


Relevant projects

Acronym Name / Duration Customer
HELM Harmonised European Land Monitoring
2011 - 2014 EC FP7 / Environment Agency (Austria)
GRAAL GMES for Regions: Awareness and Access Link
2011 - 2013 EC FP7 / SpaceTec Partners SPRL (Belgium)
HLANDATA Creation of value-added services based on Harmonized Land Use and Land Cover Datasets
2010 - 2013 EC FP7 / Gobierno de Navarra (Spain)
ISTAS Integrated snow monitoring with uncertainty analysis
2012 - 2013 European Space Agency (ESA)
SLF4EEA Mapping of small linear landscape features based on satellite imagery
2011 - 2013 European Space Agency (ESA) / GeoVille Environmental Services (Luxembourg)
G-MOSAIC GMES Support to security applications
2009 - 2012 EC FP7 / e-Geos (Italy)
geoland2 GMES Land Monitoring services
2008 - 2012 EC FP7 / Astrium GmbH (Germany)
SAFER GMES Emergency response and development support
2009 - 2012 EC FP7 / Infoterra FR SAS (France)
EEADS Consultancy services and the provision of pan-European geo-referenced data sets to EEA
2010 - 2011 European Environment Agency (EEA)
FRAGMEN Landscape fragmentation mapping & analysis
2009 - 2011 European Environment Agency (EEA) & Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN)
SNOWMAP Snow monitoring
2010 - 2011 Czech Hydrometeorological Institute
WATERPROTECT Multidisciplinary assessment of the effects of territorial protection of important sites for water management in the Czech Republic
2010 - 2011 Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, Faculty of Environmental Sciences / Ministry of Agriculture of the Czech Republic
EEACS Analýza dat CORINE Land Cover 2000/2006
2009 - 2010 European Environment Agency (EEA)
ETC-LUSI European Topic Centre on Land Use and Spatial Information
2006 - 2010 European Environment Agency (EEA)
RESPOND GMES Emergency response and development support
2007 - 2010 European Space Agency (ESA) / Infoterra UK (United Kingdom)
ROADMON Land use monitoring around major roads
2009 - 2010 Czech Ministry of Transport / Faculty of Civil Engineering, Czech Technical University
SOSI Spatial Observation Services and Infrastructure
2008 - 2010 European Space Agency (ESA) / Siemens Austria (Austria)
CASCADOSS Development of a trans-national cascade training programme on Open Source GIS&RS Software for environmental applications
2007 - 2009 FP6 EU / Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium)
COCONUT Understanding effects of land use changes on ecosystems to halt loss of biodiversity due to habitat destruction, fragmentation and degradation
2006 - 2009 EC FP6 / Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Uppsala
ERSORTHO Orthorectification of ERS radar data
2009 Faculty of Science of Charles University (Czech Republic)
GSE Land GSE Land Information Services
2007 - 2009 European Space Agency (ESA) / Infoterra DE (Germany)
CROPMAP Agriculture land mapping for pesticides monitoring in the hydrosphere
2007 - 2008 Czech University of Life Sciences
FTSP LM GMES Fast Track Service Precursor on Land Monitoring – high-resolution core land cover data built-up areas, including degree of soil sealing
2007 - 2008 European Environment Agency (EEA) / Infoterra DE
REAL Remote sensing identification and monitoring of abandoned land
2007 - 2008 Czech Ministry of Education
SVALBARD Satellite ortofotomap of Svalbard archipelago
2008 Institute of Botany AS CR
TLCC The model and automated technology for Land Cover
2007 - 2008 INTAS
PAST Analysis of the new monitoring and control requirements related to the permanent grasslands
2006 - 2007 Joint Research Centre (DG JRC) / SADL (Belgium)
DAIFOR Development of agro-environmental indicators for assessment of rural landscape changes
2005 - 2006 Flemish programme for Central and Eastern Europe (Belgium)
ETC-TE EEA European Topic Centre on Terrestrial Environment
2001 - 2006 European Environmental Agency (EEA)
GMES SAGE SAGE (Service for the Provision of Advanced Geoinformation on Environmental Pressure and State)
2005 - 2006 European Space Agency (ESA) / Infoterra Germany
BIOPRESS Land cover change information in and around Natura2000 sites
2003 - 2005 FP5 EC / Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (United Kingdom)
EDGE CLC2000 DB Edge-matching
2004 - 2005 European Environmental Agency (EEA)
ERDENET Land Cover/Use Changes in ERDENET (Mongolia)
2004 - 2005 GEOMIN (Czech Republic)
MEDSI Integration of Geographical Information Systems with DB, decision-support management and an auditory system to develop an advanced system that will be able to give support on decisions in a crisis
2004 - 2005 FP6 EU / Telefónica (Spain)
RAID RAID Feasibility Project Nr. 2 – Cross-compliance GeoPortal
2005 Joint Research Centre (DG JRC)
M2000 Image2000 Mosaic
2004 Joint Research Centre (DG JRC)
EUROSTAT LEAC Integration of geographical and statistical data in the environmental accounting framework
2002 - 2003 Eurostat
EUROSION EUROSION (LaCoast DB extension to candidate countires)
2002 DG Environment / IGN International (France)
Image2000 Orthorectification of CLC Image2000 Landsat 7 ETM+ scenes for Central and Eastern Europe
2002 European Environmental Agency (EEA)
ODRA LC1760 Retrospective land cover database of the Odra catchment (1757-1767)
2001 Joint Research Centre (DG JRC)
PTL/LC Phare Topic Link on Land Cover (PT/LC)
1997 - 2001 European Environmental Agency (EEA)
Green Accounting Natural Resources and Environmental Accounting in the Czech Republic
1998 - 1999 PHARE Regional Environmental programme
ODRA LC1975 Land cover database of the Odra catchment in 1975-76
1998 - 1999 Joint Research Centre (DG JRC)
BT GIS Black Triangle GIS
1995 - 1996 PHARE Regional Environmental Program
CLC1990 CZ/SK CORINE Land Cover 1990 CZ/SK
1994 - 1996 PHARE Regional Environmental Program
MERA Forest Ecosystem MARS Environment Related Applications (MERA) - Forest Ecosystem
1995 - 1996 PHARE, Czech Ministry of Environment
MERA Soil degradation MARS Environment Related Applications (MERA) - Soil degradation
1995 - 1996 PHARE, Czech Ministry of Environment