Habitat condition

JNCC has been working in partnership with the country conservation agencies to develop methods for utilising EO data in assessing factors that will impact on habitat condition.


NDVI image calculated from Sentinel-2 imagery for a Scottish Lowlands region. Green indicates healthier vegetation. Phase 4 of the MEOW project focused on habitat condition and change in condition. Work conducted in phase 4 has led to the production of robust evidence for monitoring environmental status and change.


JNCC are investigating approaches using parameters from EO data that can inform us about factors related to habitat condition. Initial parameters investigated are ratios calculated from the imagery –

  • Normalised Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI). This is an index that can allow a user to observe how healthy vegetation is, and over time allows for vegetation change to be analysed.
  • Normalised Difference Wetness Index (NDWI). This is an index that can be used for water body mapping.


One practical example of JNCC’s habitat condition project is to look at monitoring semi-natural grassland sites in Wales and Scotland. From EO data, it is possible to observe distinct differences in management techniques for different semi-natural habitat areas from monitoring NDVI responses. This can be automated and scaled up to regional or national level.


Cors Fochno (Borth Bog) from Sentinel-2 (March to November 2016), part of the Dyfi National Nature Reserve. A UNESCO biosphere reserve. This exemplifies the changing condition on an annual basis. Contains modified Copernicus Sentinel-2 data 2016