In the summer of 2016 the Institute for Environmental Solutions signed a contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) to start the third project that is supported by ESA. IES's proposal "Assessment of Grassland Quality and Quantity Parameters and Management Activities Using Sentinel-1&2 data" received one the highest scores in Latvia's competition.
During the project IES will explore the use of ESA's radar (Sentinel-1) and optical (Sentinel-2) satellite data for the assessment of grasslands in Latvia. SentiGrass is aimed at translating data into information on grasslands management activities (grazing, mowing and ploughing), as well as different quality (e.g. invasive species, biodiversity, degradation level) and quantity parameters (e.g. biomass). As a result, IES will develop a ready-to-use algorithm for grassland monitoring from Sentinel data.
The assessment and monitoring of grasslands is crucial at the European level. According to the 2015 European Commission report, grasslands and wetlands have the highest proportion of unfavourable-bad and deteriorating statuses in the EU. Latvia's rural development programme of 2014 – 2020 has identified c.a. 47000 hectares of biologically valuable grasslands in Latvia, but 70 – 90% of them (grassland habitats of EU importance in Natura 2000 sites) is in poor conditions.
The ready-to-use algorithm for grassland monitoring from Sentinel data will provide the basis for smart and multifunctional grassland management and monitoring in Latvia. The increased accuracy of information and analysis on grassland management activities as well as grassland quantity and quality parameters will be of interest to a range of regulatory (e.g. Rural Support Service of Latvia), consultative (e.g. Latvian Rural Advisory and Training Centre), regional development (Vidzeme Planning Region), NGOs (Latvian Fund for Nature), bio-economy and others institutions.
ESA’s recognition of the potential SentiGrass impact marks the continued cooperation between the two institutions. In the spring of 2015 IES received the highest evaluations for and began implementing SentiSimulat (simulation of Sentinel-2 satellite images for land-cover land-use monitoring by using airborne hyperspectral remote sensing) and SentiBalt (simulation of Sentinel-3 satellite data for accurate coastal and inland water assessment in the Baltic Sea) during Latvia’s first ever ESA project call.
More about SentiGrass
More about SentiSimulat
More about SentiBalt