Copernicus User Uptake Work Package 6: Support for Applications – Monitoring change in peatland condition using analysis-ready Sentinel data 2021
Peatlands are a UK Priority Habitat and are important for supporting endangered and threatened species, regulating greenhouse gases, and mitigating flood risk. Over 80% of UK peatlands are in a degraded state due to anthropogenic activities, including land conversion, drainage, extraction and burning. Peatland restoration has been recognised as a nature-based solution which can aid in tackling biodiversity decline and climate change.
Working with partners from Forest Research, Natural England, and Welsh Government, this project demonstrates how Very High Resolution (VHR) images, such as aerial photography from manned aircrafts and drones, and Sentinel-2 imagery can be used to map change in aspects of peatland condition over time. Monitoring condition so far has mainly relied upon experts in the field, whereas this project aimed to explore how Earth observation is able to provide a cost-effective means for targeting ground interventions. Specifically, through mapping changes in the areas of bare unvegetated peat, an indicator of habitats in poor condition, we can highlight areas in decline and demonstrate the effectiveness of peatland restoration, a key target for a number of crucial policy areas, such as climate change, soil health, and biodiversity.
The project focussed on four sites, including both upland and lowland peatlands, across England, Scotland and Wales. Fine-scale maps of bare peat were created by calculating indices from the aerial photography, such as Normalised Difference Vegetation Index and Normalised Difference Wetness Index and using threshold values to separate the bare peat pixels from the rest of the imagery. These maps were then used to inform regression models to predict the amount of bare peat cover, using a time-series of Sentinel-2 imagery from 2015 to 2020. Resulting maps of the predicted percentage cover of bare peat per 10 m pixel were then compared between years to assess where change had occurred.
Resource type Publication
Topic category Environment
Reference date 2021·01·07
Trippier, B., Robinson, P., Day, J., French, G., Sym, E., Colson, D., Grady, M., Anderson, R, Keane, R., Webb, A., Brownett, J., Guest, P., Horton, C. & Cooke, J. 2020. Copernicus User Uptake Work Package 6: Support for Applications – Monitoring change in peatland condition using analysis-ready Sentinel data. JNCC Report No. 674, JNCC, Peterborough, ISSN 0963-8091.
This study demonstrates how Very High Resolution (VHR) images, such as aerial photography from manned aircrafts and drones, and Sentinel-2 imagery can be used to map change in aspects of peatland condition over time.
Communications, JNCC publisher
Limitations on public access No limitations
Use constraints Available under the Open Government Licence 3.0
Metadata date 2021·01·07
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