Concept & Methodology

Overall Concept

The overall concept underpinning the GUARDEN project is the use of environmental observations to monitor the status and trends of biodiversity and the supply of multiple ecosystem services. GUARDEN will exploit information and data from European data infrastructures, programmers, and GEO initiatives, to develop a suite of methods and tools for assessing the status and trends of biodiversity and ecosystem services. These will enable the improved quantification and more precise characterization of changes in biodiversity and related ecosystem services and of ecosystem status and quantified impacts of main proximate and underlying drivers (i.e., human disturbance regime, climate change, increased human demand for natural resources, etc.) on European natural capital.

In parallel, a set of ICT tools will be developed, to facilitate decision-making by end users. In particular, four tailored DSAs will be developed, each targeting a specific case study. The DSAs will be based on a modular architecture, integrating individual components of the GUARDEN suite of tools for monitoring the status of biodiversity and ecosystem services and the set of ICT tools. This will enable full customization of each DSA to the needs of the specific end users, instead of using a generic tool. Going beyond the mere provision of tools, GUARDEN will employ MSPs to co-create the tools, and use them to answer questions as to “how future challenges arising from new drivers and pressures will affect biodiversity and ecosystems”.


GUARDEN adopts a systematic process in carrying out the project activities, consisting of the following building blocks:


Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships (MSPs)


Enabling access to environmental observations


GUARDEN suite of tools for assessing the status and trends of biodiversity and ecosystem services




User-oriented Decision Support Applications

1. Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships (MSPs):

Building on the Multi-Stakeholder Partnership Guide, GUARDEN will deal with questions related to the identification of stakeholders, influence and power differences, while defining a common goal, governance and more specifically, the organisation of collaboration and decision-making, conflict resolution, capacity, tools, and facilitation. Through the MSPs, GUARDEN will be co-designed with end users and stakeholders. This approach has its foundation in three disciplines:

  • Information Design: the organisation and presentation of data in a way that transforms it into valuable, understandable information.
  • Design Thinking: a path to innovation that puts human needs at the centre of the service design.
  • System Thinking: how different parts of a system interrelate, how systems change over time, and how they fit within the context of larger systems.

2. Enabling access to environmental observations:

The following are the main data sources, which will be enriched during the project according to needs of the end users:

  • Species and habitats data: GBIF occurrence data, Vegetation-plot databases, European Nature Information System species and habitat data, etc.
  • Remote sensing data: Sentinel-2, Altitude, very high spatial resolution remote sensing data, etc.
  • Environmental data: Climate and bioclimate data, LUCAS survey, etc.

3. GUARDEN suite of tools for assessing the status and trends of biodiversity and ecosystem services:

  • Deep learning-based mapping of species composition and habitat types.
  • Modelling of Ecosystem Services.
  • Mapping and assessment of landscape dynamics through EO.
  • Community-level species identification.
  • Future trajectories of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services across scales.
  • Integrated methods for quantifying and characterising the change in Ecosystem Services.

4. GUARDEN ICT tools:

  • Mapping tools.
  • Augmented reality visualisation tool.
  • Public participation tool.

5. User-oriented Decision Support Applications:

The GUARDEN DSAs will present information to end users according to their needs and activities. As the decisions to be taken require information at different levels of granularity and complexity, depending on the type of end-users, the need for two types of interfaces is envisioned:

  • Static interfaces that will mostly serve for conveying information (e.g., in the form of reports and infographics) to the end-users that do not necessarily need to interact with the data (i.e., politicians, NGOs and the general public).
  • Dynamic dashboards that will offer full flexibility over interacting with the data and incorporating a number of workflows to facilitate their interrogation. These dashboards will be employed by the most advanced users of the system, such as policy-makers and consultants. The development will take into account the recommendations regarding decision support applications in conservation.