Mas-de-Londres – spring scrubland at the foot of Pic Saint-Loup (34) © S.Alleaume

Preserving biodiversity is one of the major challenges to sustainable development on a national, European (Natura 2000 and the Habitats Directive) and international scale (Convention on biological diversity, 2011-2020).

Natural habitats and the species that live there are under strong pressure from urban growth, artificiality, closing of open environments or the introduction of alien invasive species, leading to their degradation, fragmentation and thus threatening the balance of ecosystems.

Research issues

Stakeholders in the preservation of biodiversity are faced with substantial knowledge needs. They need to know as much as possible about the condition and evolution of biodiversity, in addition to the pressures to which it is subjected on all scales, from international down to local. To obtain a synoptic view of natural habitats and better assess their conservation, it is essential to use remote sensing and associated techniques. The arrival of images from new sensors with different swaths and a variety of spatial and temporal resolutions provides promising prospects for studying the diversity of natural habitats, their phenology and distribution on different spatial scales. We could quote, for example, images taken by drones or aerial photographs with a ten-centimetre resolution; images of Pleaides satellites with a metric resolution; or satellites with decametric resolutions such as Landsat, SPOT or the Sentinel satellites (from 2014), with their 5-day revisit frequency.

In this context, given the wide range of satellite and aerial images currently available, remote sensing can begin addressing these issues, such as:-

  • characterising the state of natural habitats and their evolution through, for instance:
  • mapping natural habitats, and determining changes to their surface area, distribution, connectivity and phenological dynamics etc.
  • measuring biophysical and physical variables (e.g. LAI, biomass, water content and snow) which provide information on the state of plant cover.

characterising pressure on natural habitats, such as measurements of urban sprawl, the fragmentation of natural habitats or the forest’s invasion of open habitats essential for biodiversity…characterising services that biodiversity provides humankind, for example by mapping ecosystem services.

It is also important to take into account these elements of knowledge when monitoring and evaluating public policies to preserve biodiversity and optimise these policies.

The development of innovative methods to integrate multi-source, multi-resolution and multi-temporal imagery offers promising prospects for taking the different ecosystem scales into consideration. In other words, the products derived from remote sensing help determine temporal and spatial indicators for improved knowledge and management of natural habitats.

Some Theia Products on Biodiversity

Relevant Theia SECs

Variables & products


Russian Wild Fire

Incubating SEC

Fire SEC

Variables & products

Forest biomass and changes in forest cover

Producing SEC

Land cover SEC

Incubating SEC

Landscape SEC


Producing SEC

Risks associated with infectious diseases SEC

Variables & products

Snow-covered surface

Variables & products

Surface Reflectance

Variables & products

Variables for Biodiversity

Variables & products

Vegetation biophysical variables

Variables & products

Vegetation Optical Depth

Theia News on Biodiversity


OSO 2023 Data : a little more patience ahead

THEIA Land Cover product is produced each year by CESBIO and CNES. It provides a 24-class typology of land cover, downloadable by department for mainland France. Production begins in January […]

Theia Regional Animation Network

A new GeoDEV website, with resources tailored to your profile

The website of the ART GeoDEV, the Theia Regional Animation network that CIRAD, IRD and CNES have been leading since 2017 in the direction of Southern countries, is evolving to […]



Please apply before June, 30th.



VENµS M5 reflectance products are now available through Theia with over 100 documented sites worldwide.


GEOV2-AVHRR: the 2021 version is available

The GEOV2-AVHRR product has been updated for the year 2021. This means that 40 years of global vegetation data are now available. 

Data Terra

Using satellite imagery to establish a link between the environment, the habitats that are favourable to these species, and the human and animal populations at risk

Annelise TRAN, CIRAD researcher and THEIA Risks associated with Infectious Diseases SEC, shares her vision of Theia consortium, its achievements as well as the challenges ahead.

Data Terra

“What motivates my interest in THEIA, but also in the very idea of data consortia, are the ever-changing activities and the associated challenges.”

Arnaud Sellé, CNES-Partner Interoperability Manager for DINAMIS, Theia & ForM@Ter, gives us his vision of Theia contributions and challenges.

PhD & PostDoc

[PhD grant] From Landscape detection to population dynamics

CNES is offering a PhD grant for a project aiming to improve knowledge of human population dynamics in rural areas through the recognition of landscape indicators derived from high-resolution image processing.


Do you know the SCO?

The SCO facilitators discuss the Space Climate Observatory project, through which several THEIA SECs and RANs projects have been labelled.

Theia Forest and Water Quality Workshops

Theia organized two thematic workshops in October, focusing on applied products for the monitoring of Forests and Water Quality.


GEOV2-AVHRR: 2020 data now available

The GEOV2-AVHRR product has been updated for the year 2020. There are now 39 years of global vegetation change data available. 


Providing key information for environmental studies to document changes and trends

Meet with Silvia Valero, the new facilitator for Theia Land Cover SEC. She shares here her ambitions and expectations.



GEOV2-AVHRR: Monitoring Changes in Vegetation on a Global Scale over the last 38 Years

Long-term global monitoring of the terrestrial biosphere has raised an increasing interest in recent years. The Global Climate Observing System (GCOS 2010) identified a set of Essential Climate Variables (ECV) […]



SMOS L4RZSM, an operational product dedicated to root zone humidity

Discover or rediscover the Root Zone Moisture product developed at Cesbio from SMOS data for Theia Surface Soil Moisture SEC.



Just released Theia Bulletin n°14

Read Theia Bulletin n°14 and all the news from the network.


S2-VarBIO: four biophysical variables to monitor crops and vegetation

The first S2-VarBio demonstration products are now available on Theia.


GeoDEV: six thematic sheets for users in the South

Theia GeoDEV RAN proposes thematic sheets with Southern users’ needs in mind.


Land Cover: a Product in Continuous Improvement

Jordi Inglada tells us about the latest developments of Theia Land Cover product.


The New Theia Catalogue: All the Collections in a Single Visualization

Discover the new Theia catalogue offering a centralised access to SECs products as well as advances search functions and image visualisation tools.


Remote sensing and forests: the contribution of optical imagery

A focus on the use of remote sensing for forests, including the contribution of the biodivMapR tool.


Land Cover on Reunion Island

A focus on Theia Land Cover on Reunion Island product, its methods and uses.


Theia Bulletin n°12

Discover the content of Theia Bulletin n°12.


Documenting in essential variables for biodiversity by remote sensing

A focus on Samuel Alleaume & Sandra Luques research representing both Theia Variables for Biodiversity and Landscape SECs.


Just released: Theia Bulletin n°11

Read all the news from Theia network.


2018 Land Cover Product

Discover the Land Cover Product and the novelties of the 2018 reference year.


Improving Biodiversity Monitoring Using Satellite Remote Sensing

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Thematic School: remote sensing and biodiversity

The Labex CEBA is organising its thematic school on remote sensing and its potential uses in the study of biodiversity. It will be held at the Hotel des Roches in Kourou (French Guiana) as from the 25th to the 29th of September 2017.


Current projects

  • National CarHab project: mapping of natural and semi-natural vegetation in France. The French Ministry of Ecology initiated CarHab in 2011 in order to have by 2015 a 1:25000 map of natural and semi-natural vegetation throughout France.
    For more information, see
  • GEOSUD project: the goal is to develop an international research and transfer centre for remote sensing and satellite information to promote sustainable development. This projet contributes to the development of thematic methods (mapping of natural habitats) and their formalisation through methodological guides.
  • CHAMOIS project: the goal here is to map the spatial distribution and diversity of flora in high-altitude natural habitats in the Isère department (eastern France) by trialling remote sensing methods and using graph theory to analyse vegetation survey databases.
    For more information, see projet CHAMOIS
  • Agropastoral fabric of the Massif Central region (central France): maintaining biodiversity in the Massif Central by preserving the quality and functionality of grasslands (IPAMAC association). The project aims to develop as detailed cartographic inventory methods of flora in grasslands as possible. It applies to both aerial and satellite imagery (Worldview2, Pleiades, SPOT) with a spatial resolution from 0.30 to 2.5 m recorded at different periods of the growing cycle, in addition to lidar data and spatialized phytosociological surveys.
  • Tel-IAE project: to develop methods and tools based on satellite imagery for the identification and characterisation of agro-ecological infrastructures for R&D players and public authorities.
  • ASTERIX project (Analyse Spatio¬temporelle pour la Télédétection de l’Environnement par Reconnaissance dans les Images compleXes – This project is designed to provide methods, algorithms and software for image analysis and automatic learning to help recognise environmental objects in complex images by explicitly taking into account the specificity of remote sensing imagery. It seeks to define a methodological framework to process data at various spatial and temporal scales. As part of this project, a study is currently being carried out on the dynamics of ash tree colonisation of pastures in the Hautes-Pyrénées region.

Past projects

  • European MS.MONINA project – Multiscale Service for MONItoring NAtura 2000 habitats of European community interest. The project proposed setting up observation and management services for Natura 2000 sites and other habitats of interest to Europe.   
  • European BIO_SOS project (Biodiversity Multi-SOurce Monitoring System: From Space To Species). The main goal was to develop an efficient pre-operational multi-year monitoring system for Natura 2000 sites and their surrounding areas, subject to different and combined pressures.
  • Regional RhoMeO project: observatory on the state of wetlands in the Rhône-Mediterranean basin (2011-2013). It set up monitoring and analysis tools for these wetlands based on biological indicators and human pressure.   
  • FORGECO project. This project focused on ecological intensification in a multifunctional context of forested areas. One of the objectives was to set up methods to help in decision-making for inventorying forest habitats and analysing their past and future evolution.


Current thesis

  • Cartographie des écosystèmes de montagne et analyse des changements de phénologie en lien avec les changements climatiques-utilisation de séries temporelles d’images satellitaires
    Emmanuelle Cano
    LETG – Rennes Costel
  • Evaluation la restauration écologique des cours d’eau par télédétection à très haute résolution spatiale et temporelle : développement d’une approche multicapteurs
    Marianne Laslier
    LETG – Rennes Costel
  • La cartographie des services écosystémiques : un nouvel outil d’intégration des relations homme-milieu dans la gestion environnementale ?
    Solen Leclerch
    LETG – Rennes Costel
  • Impact du changement climatique sur la biodiversité des zones humides : l’analyse des politiques publiques au Brésil et en France dans les parcs du Pantanal et de la Grande Brière
    Heloisa de Camargo Tozato
    LETG – Rennes Costel
  • Exploitation de séries temporelles d’images satellites à haute résolution spatiale pour le suivi des prairies en milieu agricole
    Pauline Dusseux
    LETG – Rennes Costel

Past thesis

  • Délimitation et caractérisation fonctionnelle des zones humides à l’échelle du bassin versant pour une gestion raisonnée et intégrée : évaluation de la télédétection à très haute résolution sur la Dordogne
    Sébastien Rapinel
    6 sept. 2012 –  LETG – Rennes Costel
  • Diversité, organisation spatiale et fonctionnelle des communautés de papillons (lépidoptères, rhopalocères) en milieu urbain et périurbain (Rôle des espaces artificialisés en terme de conservation et de connectivité) 
    Marie-Hélène Lizee
    2011 – Université de Provence ; Ecole Doctorale Sciences de l’Environnement, Marseille


Séminaire Biodiversité, organisé le 20 mars 2014 par l’IGN avec le concours du Pôle Theia (à Saint Mandé):

Other publications :