Realising the full potential of remotely sensed data for conservation

This special symposium and workshop is being led by representatives from the Cambridge Conservation Initiative (CCI). It will provide information on the outputs from five ‘user-needs’ workshops held in 2010 within a multi-partner CCI project called ‘What Do Conservation Practitioners Want From Remote Sensing Data’. The project formed an element of the Shared Challenges Programme 2008-2012. The symposium will present findings on the needs of conservation practitioners in relation to data from satellites (and other remote sensing platforms), and the priorities for new developments. The session will also provide examples of what has already been successfully achieved, and include a workshop where practitioners, academics and data providers can meet and discuss future opportunities and directions.

Understanding species’ distributions

For the conservation sector, a major use of the spatial data derived from habitat maps (Theme 1), is in trying to understand underlying relationships between species, habitats, threats and landscape features. Species distribution models (SDMs) and Habitat Suitability Models (HSMs) provide information for practitioners that can be used to develop and evaluate strategic conservation action. A variety of statistical techniques have been developed that interface with many widely available GIS software and freeware. Importantly, the 'robustness' of these techniques have been evaluated and developed using a range of ecological field data. However, practitioners who use these systems must be aware of the correct use and limitations of the particular models/software they use, as these have important implications for deriving appropriate conservation action. This theme will present an overview of recent developments, evaluate the relative merits of the different techniques and software available, and identify end-user needs.

Training & professional development

Within the conference programme, we have included two half-day sessions where delegates will be able to take part in a range of FREE training and professional development events. We have 4 confirmed courses and more are being planned (see: training page). In parallel with these training sessions, there will also be a number of side events and meetings (to be announced), and time for delegates to meet, discuss and network. The events programme will include:
  -  QGIS for ecologists: the use of GIS freeware
  -  MAXENT spatial modelling: how to use all those species records !
  -  Hand-held habitat mappers
  -  Decision support tools
  -  Marine mapping technology
  -  Obtaining and using satellite data
  -  Animal tracking technology

Please contact Mark O'Connell to offer other events.....

Advances in mapping & analysing terrestrial & marine systems

Many strategic conservation actions implemented by practitioners and government agencies are underpinned by information from the production and analysis of habitat maps. The use of such maps includes understanding the distribution of species/habitats and threats, condition monitoring, quantifying fragmentation, measuring spatial and temporal trends, optimal siting of protected area networks and corridors, identifying potential site management targets, and many more. However, the cost-effective production of maps that are of utility across a range of scales, organisations and uses, is surprisingly difficult. Organisations require information about what is available (software, hardware and analyses), as well as the capacity implications of acquiring new mapping technology. There is therefore a need to present, discuss and evaluate the very latest mapping technologies, methods and analyses that have been, or could be of utility to conservation.

Decision support tools for conservation

Strategic conservation planning by organisations and government agencies requires the integration of a wide range of data on species, habitats, landscapes, climates, agriculture and human social systems. Deriving multiple objectives from these data involves a series of complex and highly technical processes. Decision Support Systems (DSS), are software tools (often available online), that provide planning methods using standardised and transparent protocols. Importantly they allow users to integrate their own datasets with larger existing data from other sources. They also act as visualisation tools, and provide users with the ability to explore a range of future scenarios, and evaluate the potential outcomes of alternative planning decisions. This theme will provide an overview of the current range of DSS tools in relation to their accessibility functionality, and training requirements for practitioners. Future developments will also be presented and end user needs identified.

Selection & designation of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)

In many parts of the world, a considerable effort is underway to designate an ecologically coherent network of protected areas for marine and coastal environments. The challenges of monitoring and mapping the biodiversity in these systems means that we have less knowledge available than for terrestrial systems. Given the range of serious threats in the marine environment (over exploitation, introduced and invasive species, pollution, climate change, etc), there has never been a more important time to develop and agree methods for data collection, analysis and use. This special symposium will use the experiences of MPAs in the UK to provide a framework for discussions on data needs and issues, solutions and best practice.  


Information about the meeting

Contact the event organisers
Mark O'Connell and Rachel White

ERT Conservation is the trading name of Ecological Research & Training Ltd.
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