Earth Observation for Wildlife

Wildlife in Banff National Park spring 2023. Image credit: Marc Boucher.

An upcoming webinar hosted by the Canadian Space Agency will focus on the “scientific developments in the field of Earth observation (EO) for wildlife.”

The free webinar will be hosted on Thursday, October 19 between 11:00 am to noon ET. There will be two speakers, Dr. Jérôme Théau, Department of Applied Geomatics, Université de Sherbrooke, and Jason Duffe, Geomatics Research Manager, Landscape and Science Technology Division, Environment and Climate Change Canada.

The first presenter will be Dr. Jérôme Théau who will speak in french. His topic is:

Télédétection de la faune par imagerie satellitaire : entre réalité et chimère

The advent of metric and submetric satellite remote sensing in the 2000s opened a very promising door for EO, particularly with respect to detailed land surface characterization and detection of small objects. For several decades, the detection and inventory of large mammals have relied on aerial surveys and visual interpretation of information. Developing automated and generalizable methods over large areas would allow for wildlife inventories to be considerably more frequent, precise and comprehensive.

Where are we over 20 years later? A maximum spatial resolution of 30 cm, combined with revisit times of less than a day and the development of processing methods based on convolutional neural networks, currently make it possible to detect some wildlife species via satellite imagery. However, progress has been slow for the past 20 years. The main barriers to progress regarding satellite images are spatial resolution, availability, access and processing capabilities.

This presentation aims to summarize the main advances over the past 20 years and to identify the current bottlenecks. It will also include different perspectives on future space missions, trends in processing and mining data from multiple sources, and development of collaborative platforms. Is it feasible to integrate satellite imagery into wildlife inventories in the short term? This webinar will attempt to answer that question.

The second presentation will be by Jason Duffe who will speak in english. His topic is:

Earth Observations for Wildlife and Landscapes

Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) has a strong conservation mandate including protecting migratory birds, recovering species at risk and managing a network of protected areas, all of which benefit from the multitude of EOs and analytical solutions available today.

From centimetre-scale drone imagery of wetland vegetation in small, protected areas, to national-scale wetland mapping, EO tools and techniques are developed and used to inform a wide range of legislative and policy mandates, including habitat conservation and species recovery, nature-based climate solutions and assessing impacts of anthropogenic disturbances on species-at-risk & greenhouse gas fluxes. Highlights of ECCC’s Geomatics Research Lab Earth Observation program to support the above initiatives will be presented.

To participate please visit this CSA webpage.

About Marc Boucher

Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceQ Media Inc. and CEO and co-founder of SpaceRef Interactive LLC. Boucher has 20+ years working in various roles in the space industry and a total of 30 years as a technology entrepreneur including creating Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine.

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