How the EU’s Satellites Could Monitor 40% of Europe’s Land Mass!

If established, the EU will have the most advanced and integrated forest monitoring system anywhere in the world!

Tue 21 Nov 23


The European Union will deploy satellites in a move that it claims will protect 159 million hectares of forests, about 39% of the EU’s land mass, according to a report by Bloomberg.

Wood Central understands that the European Commission will unveil a draft legislation to establish a forest-monitoring system using aerial information from its Copernicus Sentinel satellites and other data sources tomorrow.

If established, it will lead to the EU having the most advanced and integrated forest monitoring system anywhere in the world, with Europe looking to maximise carbon inventories.

The legislation is crucial to the EU’s new Green Deal, with member states encouraged to develop forest plans for the next 50 years.

If approved, the satellites will help fill gaps in data-gathering, including measuring the impact of drought or damage by pests, such as the bark beetle. 

“Forests and peatlands provide a natural sponge to absorb millions of tons of atmospheric CO2, both from man-made sources and wildfires as global warming worsens,” an EU spokesperson told Bloomberg.

In 2019, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen vowed to put the climate at the heart of her presidency as part of a Green Deal to the European Parliament in Brussels. The plan will commit the EU to achieving climate neutrality by 2050—footage courtesy of @dwnews.

Protection of these natural resources is key to the EU’s plans to reach net-zero emissions by the middle of the century. 

“EU forests and other wooded land are increasingly stressed by climate change and direct or indirect human use and activity,” according to a draft document, which is still subject to change. 

“Hazards like wildfires, pest outbreaks, droughts, and heatwaves, often reinforcing each other, are likely to lead to more frequent and intense catastrophic events, often beyond national borders.”

Greece, Spain and Portugal suffered severe forest fires this summer, raising the risk that major cities like Athens could become deserts. 

The push to better utilise satellite technologies comes after Wood Central reported last week that Central and Eastern European member states had been using Cold War-era satellite data to monitor reforestation over the previous 50 years.

How Trees Outside Forests Could Unlock Europe's Biomass Potential
How Trees Outside Forests Could Unlock Europe’s Biomass Potential

Whilst last month, it reported that more than 15 million “trees outside forests” have not been accounted for as part of member states forest inventories.

Using an algorithm combining satellite imagery and artificial intelligence, researchers reveal that the EU could have up to 1 billion more tonnes of additional biomass due to unaccounted-for trees.

The researchers used detailed satellite imagery, calculating the amount of tree cover within 3m of the tree crown outside forested areas in each country.

It found that the Netherlands, the UK, Ireland, and Denmark have the highest tree cover outside forest areas – with the Netherlands having 25% of tree cover outside forests and more than 8% in urban cities.


  • Jason Ross

    Jason Ross, publisher, is a 15-year professional in building and construction, connecting with more than 400 specifiers. A Gottstein Fellowship recipient, he is passionate about growing the market for wood-based information. Jason is Wood Central's in-house emcee and is available for corporate host and MC services.


Related Articles