Ecosystems are valuable as well as aesthetic. The natural functions of ecosystems can have profound effects on the economy, and human and wildlife health. The aggregate value of these âœecosystem servicesâ? may far exceed the economic value derived from resource extraction or industrial development, especially when considering the costs of restoring ecosystems. There is increasing interest, therefore, in monitoring and protecting ecosystems, and accounting for the biodiversity and services they provide. In 2010, Canada undertook a review of ecosystem status and trends that identified the regions and ecosystems where management is most urgently needed. The authors concluded that more large-scale, long-term, standardized, and spatially complete information is needed for effective monitoring and management. Satellite-based earth observation (EO) tools were seen as a means of addressing this information need. In a separate exercise, a list of priority questions for conservation policy and management at a national level was produced: the resolution of three-quarters of those questions appears to depend on EO tools to a significant or critical extent. Canada has a long and successful history in all aspects of earth observation, placing it amongst the leaders in the international remote sensing community. Whereas the need for measuring ecosystem services to humans and wildlife is increasingly important, the challenges for doing so are increasingly significant and the technology required is increasingly complex. Overcoming these challenges is necessary to address emerging conservation priorities including measurement of ecosystem attributes to support habitat conservation for Species at Risk, measuring functional capacity of ecosystems to mitigate effects of climate change, monitoring and mitigating effects of resource extraction, and supporting industrial development in Canadaâ™s north. Addressing emerging priorities requires dialogue among ecologists and decision makers, coordinated at regional and national scales, and requires drawing on the best EO technologies and infrastructure available. This review highlights the urgency of a coordinated approach for innovative applications of EO tools toward conservation and discusses some of the key elements that might be included and opportunities and challenges that might be encountered, by such an approach.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Canada, Earth observation, Ecosystem function, Ecosystem monitoring, Ecosystem services, Remote sensing
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1139/er-2013-0017
Journal Environmental Reviews
Citation
Pasher, J. (Jon), Smith, P.A, Forbes, M, & Duffe, J. (Jason). (2014). Terrestrial ecosystem monitoring in Canada and the greater role for integrated earth observation. Environmental Reviews (Vol. 22, pp. 179–187). doi:10.1139/er-2013-0017