CIE Seminar Series – 2021 (2 seminars): Improving the use of satellite-derived data in ecosystem risk assessments / Indicating what? Indicators of ecosystem change for effective biodiversity conservation

DATE & TIME: Both seminars will take place on Friday, 21st MAy 2021 @ 12:00 noon

LOCATION: Seminar to be streamed via Zoom. Click HERE to connect (Meeting ID: 821 2801 1857, Password: 64454012).

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Seminar 1

SPEAKER: Calvin Ka Fai Lee, School of Biological Sciences, University of Hong Kong.


Biodiversity is essential for the continued survival of human society, as we rely on ecosystems and the services they provide in our daily lives. In response to ongoing biodiversity decline globally, the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems (RLE) was recently developed as a framework to assess risk of ecosystem collapse, and has been applied to ecosystems in more than 100 countries.

Satellite data has emerged as an essential tool in informing the RLE, though there are still many gaps that need to be filled to maximise the potential of using satellite data for ecosystem assessments.

In this talk, I will share the methods I have developed throughout my PhD which improve the way we can analyse and interpret satellite data within the context of conservation, how we can better estimate changes in ecosystem extent and ecosystem degradation. Lastly, I will discuss the implications of these new methods in informing conservation policy.


I was a PhD student at Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia. My PhD focused on understanding the uncertainties and inconsistencies that exist in the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems and Red List of Species. Additionally, I also developed new methods of analysing satellite remote sensing data and how we can better incorporate them into ecosystem assessments.

The aim of this research is to understand the implications of using different methods to assess species and ecosystem risk, and to expand the capacity of current risk assessments by taking advantage of the non-invasive, efficient, and low-cost nature of remotely sensed data.

I’ve since moved back to Hong Kong to start a position at the University of Hong Kong, focusing on studying forest health by combining different types of remote sensing data, from UAVs to satellites, using machine learning and AI methods.

For more information click HERE or follow me on Twitter.

Seminar 2

SPEAKER: Dr. Jess Rowland, School of Biological Sciences, Monash University.


Sustaining ecosystems is critical for supporting a healthy planet for people and biodiversity alike. Quantifying ecosystem change is the first step to understanding the actions needed to halt declines at local up to global scales. Yet suitable ecosystem-level biodiversity indicators to support global biodiversity agreements and government biodiversity reporting are lacking.

In this talk, I will summarise the work I completed during my PhD to improve our capacity to monitor and synthesise global biodiversity change.

I will explore how we measure ecosystem status and change at local levels, how we can aggregate data into biodiversity indicators to show status and trends across diverse ecosystems at national to global scales, and how we can meaningfully present information from data aggregations to avoid misinterpreting trends.


Dr Jess Rowland is a Research Fellow at Monash University focused on evaluating the effectiveness of conservation actions, monitoring ecosystem trends at local to global scales, and understanding risks to ecosystems to inform environmental policy and management.

She is currently developing methods to evaluate the effectiveness of management actions and approaches to identify key research priorities to inform the conservation management of threatened ecosystems.

She is involved in the project to undertake Red List of Ecosystems assessments for Australian alpine ecosystems and is exploring how to effectively incorporate the impacts of climate change in ecosystem risk assessments.

For more information click HERE or follow me on Twitter.

As a courtesy, we request that when connecting to the seminar that you mute your microphone unless you are required to speak, this would ensure that the sound from the speaker to the audience is not disrupted by feedback from your microphone.

Thanking you in advance!

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