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The European Union (EU) has set up an ?EU 2020 biodiversity strategy? in response to the adoption of a global Strategic Plan
for Biodiversity 2011-2020. The European Habitats Directive, established back in 1992, is considered a flagship policy for
the EU and a role model worldwide, ascertaining the conservation of natural habitats, fauna and flora in the entire territory of
the Member States (MS) with strict measures of implementation. Earth observation (EO), realized through satellite and air-
borne remote sensing and complemented by in-situ observation networks provides the technological means for regularly updated
information on adaptable scales and spatio-temporal coverage. The European Copernicus program fosters the development of
EO-based information services for all societal domains of concern. In ecosystem monitoring, such services are designed to
sustain biological diversity and favorable ecological conditions on increasingly operational level. A standardized reporting on
status and trends of ecosystems will help keep such conditions in balance with favorable social and also economic ones, while
not sacrificing the first for the latter. This paper discusses achievements towards an operational use of latest generation satellite
imagery for monitoring sensitive ecological sites applied on several levels of implementation. Technical advances and remaining
methodological challenges are discussed with a particular focus on (semi-)automated extraction of habitat classes and associated
ecosystem integrity indicators and from very high resolution satellite imagery such as WorldView-II.
Stefan Lang has completed his Ph.D. at the age of 32 years from Salzburg University, held a 1 year substitute professorship at Technical University
of Berlin and is Assistant Professor at the Interfaculty Department of Geoinformatics, Z_GIS in Salzburg, Austria. He is head of the research division
Integrated Spatial Analysis (ISA) and coordinates a collaborative EU project on EO-based biodiversity monitoring called MS.MONINA. He has
authored and co-authored more than 20 papers in reputed journals, and serves as editorial board member.
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