Developing tailored remote monitoring protocols for sites of biodiversity importance

Developing tailored remote monitoring protocols for sites of biodiversity importance

Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) are sites contributing significantly to the global persistence of biodiversity.  Over 16,000 KBAs have been identified globally, but their health and integrity are not monitored systematically. This project aims to develop, publish and disseminate long-term indices of change in all KBAs using a suite of remote sensing products tailored to the characteristics and needs of each site.  This will help inform on-the ground monitoring, management of sites, the development and prioritisation of conservation interventions and reporting against global policy instruments such as the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

Project Aims

  • To develop a protocol for remote sensing KBA monitoring, tailored to the species and habitats that are of particular importance to the individual KBAs and the characteristics of those sites
  • To implement this protocol and produce long-term indices of change in the selected parameters at each KBA
  • To make data on these long-term monitoring indicators available through development of the World Database of KBAs (
  • To publish the results in the scientific literature, highlighting sites and regions that have experienced the greatest long-term changes.

Key Activities

  • Identify, for each KBA, the most relevant pressures and land-cover types to monitor using satellite remote sensing data
  • Identify key spatial datasets and indicators that could be used to assess change in these pressures and land-cover types over time
  • Develop and execute JavaScript code for Google Earth Engine (GEE) to extract time-series of values for indicators within KBAs
  • Make JavaScript code for GEE publicly available through GitHub with appropriate metadata and documentation
  • Calculate temporal trends in each relevant indicator for each KBA
  • Produce a peer-reviewed manuscript describing methods and the major spatial and temporal patterns in the indicators.

Conservation Impact

  • Better conservation of KBAs globally, through more informed decision-making and priority-setting
  • Conservation resources targeted to the highest priority KBAs in a timely way
  • Monitoring data will help inform national and international reporting against SDGs and Aichi/post-2020 Targets
  • Stimulus for mobilisation of funding and resource for on-going site monitoring using satellite remote sensing.


  • Protocol to monitor KBAs using satellite remote sensing, including a catalogue of indicators, datasets and specific threats and/or land cover types to which they relate.
  • JavaScript code for GEE made publicly available through GitHub with associated documentation to allow others to repeat the analyses.  This will help develop capacity and secure a legacy for the project.
  • Long-term indices of environmental change across approximately 16,000 KBAs.
  • A peer-reviewed manuscript highlighting spatial variation and temporal trends in indicators.
  • Data on time-series and trends of indicators integrated into the World Database of KBAs (WDKBA), making them accessible via a public webpage.

Project Overview

Type: Funded Projects
Theme: Indicators, monitoring and effectiveness
Project code: CCI-05-19-010
Start date: October 1, 2019
Status: Active

CCI partners Involved

Other Organisations Involved

Wildlife Conservation Society

Key Biodiversity Area Secretariat and Technical Working Group

Google Earth Outreach


Thumbnail and banner image: Andrew T. Sullivan via Flickr creative commons