GEO BON Secretariat

September 16, 2015

Project background

The world’s declining plant diversity is degrading nature’s ability to provide goods and services. Terrestrial ecosystem productivity is driven by plants and the most plant diverse ecosystems are generally the most productive, in terms of creation of biomass and the provision of ecosystem goods and services to society. However human pressures on the world’s plant diversity is increasing causing alarming losses in plant species worldwide.

The Global Strategy for Plant Conservation was ratified in 2002 by the parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). It aims to halt these losses, conserve plant diversity and mitigate human pressures on plant life.

The RS4EBV project will develop a methodology for consistent mapping and monitoring of a suite of variables which describe plant status and health, paving the way for a global plant functional diversity index. Functional Diversity (FD) is the value, range, and relative abundance of plant traits in a given ecosystem. Developing this index will be the first step in helping conservationist to focus their efforts on the world’s most productive and functionally diverse ecosystems and ultimately to halt plant species decline. Repeated and systematic observations of FD globally could also help policy makers assess progress towards the Aichi Biodiversity Targets by building an indicator based on trends in FD.

Project team

The RS4EBV team consists of a core partnership between the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) and the University of Twente – Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation (UT-ITC) with financial and technical support from the European Space Agency (ESA) Innovators III initiative. The project kicked off in March 2015 and will run until early 2017.


  • The North Wyke Farm Platform
  • The Bavarian Forest National Park
  • The Dutch Centre for Field Ornithology (SOVON)
  • Group on Earth Observations – Biodiversity Observation Network (GEO BON)

Contact points for further information

Marc Paganini
Frascati, Italy

Dr Brian O’Connor
Cambridge, UK

Prof Andrew Skidmore
ITC, University of Twente
Enschede, the Netherlands

Remote Sensing for Essential Biodiversity Variables (RS4EBV)

News from: GEO BON projects