DigitalGlobe announced that the Nature Conservancy is using DigitalGlobe's QuickBird satellite imagery to assess biological diversity and conservation progress in several regions throughout the U.S. and worldwide. The Nature Conservancy leverages satellite imagery and geospatial technologies to better understand, monitor, and predict natural and human systems.

The Nature Conservancy has developed a rigorous science-based approach to conserve plants, animals and ecological systems within a diverse portfolio of conservation areas. First, within each project area, the biodiversity is evaluated and a set of target species or ecosystems is identified. For each of these targets, an ecological model is developed to understand how the species or ecosystem functions and which processes and resources are needed to maintain or enhance its quality. Sources of stress and threats to the targets, such as habitat destruction, invasive species or water pollution, are determined. Then, strategies are formulated to address those threats. Finally, the impact of those strategies is monitored over time, and the process is repeated in an "adaptive management" framework.

Satellite imagery and geographic information systems (GIS) have proven to be critical tools that the Conservancy employs at every stage of this iterative process.

"The Nature Conservancy works with many different types of ecosystems and species that are threatened by various activities. We are trying to find cost effective ways of inventorying and monitoring landscapes worldwide," said Frank Biasi, director of Conservation Systems for the Nature Conservancy. "High-resolution commercial satellite imagery holds great promise for helping the Nature Conservancy define and achieve its goals and measure its results," he added.

Biasi cites several advantages of using QuickBird imagery for creating the detailed maps his program requires. "With satellite technology, we can acquire consistent imagery over large areas, and we don't have to mosaic the pieces together as we would with aerial imagery. This allows us to efficiently map large landscapes and ecosystems at a level of detail that is meaningful to local communities and conservation managers," he said.

According to Biasi, the QuickBird satellite's ability to fly over remote locations not accessible by airplane is very attractive. Biasi also says the repeatability and consistency of multiple image collections, in addition to DigitalGlobe's large and growing archive, will allow the Nature Conservancy to effectively measure change and track progress over time. The high-resolution of QuickBird images, he says, will be key for distinguishing between plant and vegetation species.

Source: DigitalGlobe, Dec. 8, 2004