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Esri Conservation Program (ECP) Report 2017

Slides –

Consortium Members and Their Abbreviations

  • National Parks: Gomilshans’ki Lisy (GNP), Dvorichans’kyi (DNP), Slobozhans’kyi (SNP)
  • N. Karazin National University of Kharkiv (NUKh)
  • M. Beketov National University of Urban Economy in Kharkiv (NUUEK)
  • Non-governmental organizations (NGO): EcoAction (EA), National Ecological Centre of Ukraine (NECU), Centre for Regional Studies (CRS)


From 2010 the consortium is carrying out digitalization of working routine of the national nature parks of the Kharkiv region. First of all, the tasks of Research and Recreation Departments of national parks as units with the highest susceptibility towards innovations, are undergone automation. Partially, the tasks of Administration and Park Ranger Services are considered, as well.


Due to support from the ESRI Conservation Program during last five years the key organizations are able to use all ESRI products and services including desktop, mobile and on-line applications, as well as Internet data and geoprocessing services [1].


This report reviews basic technologies used and results obtained in 2016-2017 in the application to routine tasks performed by national park staff, staff members of other organisations that cooperate with parks, and volunteers.

Unmanned aerial vehicles (drones)

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In 2016-2017 basic spatio-temporal models of nature protected areas have been developed using the data obtained with drones: point clouds, orthophotoplans (RGB/NIR, GSD 0,5-3 cm), digital maps (DM), digital elevation models (DEMs). Aerial survey was done mainly by volunteers with the use of common and professional drones.

These models comprise 12 key sites in the national parks of Kharkiv region (26 orthophotoplans, 7 digital maps, 3 normalised DEMs) and other nature protected areas (18 orthophotoplans, 10 digital maps, 5 normalised DEMs). The majority of models were developed for GNP and SNP where the first and second year Biology, Ecology and Geography students have their summer field classes. Data are used in the thematic modelling and visualisation. Total area of the modelled objects is more than 5000 ha.

Orthophotoplans and DEMs have to become open-source models (СС0) in 2018. At present data are partially available for viewing and usage (CC BY) in the AGOL projects [2, 3, 4, 5].

Modelling and Analysis

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In 2017 the seasonal dynamics of wetland water surface in SNP has been monitored using the remote sensing data PlanetScope (RGBN, GSD 5m) accessed in the frames of the Planet Ambassadors Program [6]. Total surveyed wetland area is 107 ha. It has been found that data obtained by means of remote sensing were biased at 10-15% compared to the instrumental ground survey data from the same period. The data are expected to use in studying the activity of the European Beaver and other ecosystem engineer species. The monitoring results have been published in AGOL [3, 7].


In the frameworks of waterbodies inventory and research, the hydrological complexes model of the DNP has been developed. As a source data, the archive topographic plans, Sentinel-2, and ESRI World Imagery were used. Another model developed with the use of remote sensing data is the riparian landscape model that reflects seasonal peculiarities of moisture regime. Ravine and creek geometry data have been exported to OSM [8].

In the frameworks of groundwater springs survey of Kharkiv region in 2016-2017 the models of spring feeding, accessibility and feeding zone protectability as well as the map of groundwater spring accomplishment in the city of Kharkiv have been developed (ca. 40 springs). These activities were supported by consultancy from The American Association of Geographers in the frames of the Secondary Cities Programme [9]. The work results have been published in AGOL [4].


In 2017 the DEM of the SNP has been developed on the base of archive topographic plans and additional cartographic sources. As a source data, the following were used: relief contours, altitude points, structural lines, and ultra-high resolution satellite images [7]. In 2016 the DEM of the DNP has been developed [8] and the DEM of the GNP was corrected. One more DEM has been developed for the ocean floor in the area of investigations of the Ukrainian Antarctic Expedition [10, 11, 12]. Model precision meets the requirements for the scale 1:15 000. Basing on the developed DEMs the models of slope exposure and steepness, and topographic heterogeneity were derived.

These models are currently used for studying ecological niches of rare species, hydrologic modelling, touristic routes design, and visualization. In 2018-2019 the DEMs are expected to use for the navigation purposes accounting for the slope steepness.

Both generic and derived DEMs are planned to make an open source (СС0) in 2018. These DEMs have been published (CC BY) at the Portal for ArcGIS [13].

Vegetation Mapping

The model of rare chalk grassland plant distributions was developed for the DNP in 2016. The basic assumption was that spatial differentiation of plant assemblages is determined by thermal conditions and the slope of terrain. The modelling was done using Sentinel-2 data and DEMs [8, 14]. To test the classifying quality data the ESRI World Imagery were used.

In 2017 this methodology was applied to create the chalk grassland models of Kharkiv, Luhansk, Donetsk, Ternopil Regions and the Crimea. Total area of the classified grasslands is 66750 ha. Development of the chalk grassland distribution model was supported by the Conservation Leadership Programme [15, 16, 17].

In 2017 the detailed studies on spatial distribution of forest tree species has started in the GNP with the use of different-time PlanetScope remote sensing data. High frequency of data collection makes possible to utilise the most suitable daily data for classifying certain tree species. The data are expected to publish (СС BY) on the AGOL platform in 2019.

Landscapes and Habitats

As a part of activities to rationale protected areas creation around the «Akademik Vernadsky» Antarctic Station in 2016 the ocean floor models were developed for 4 key biodiversity monitoring areas where data of echolocation depth survey were available. The depth models and morphometric characteristics made a base for analysing patterns of benthic communities spatial distribution and developing the recommendations on their protection [10, 11].

Basing on landscape surveys of 2015 the landscape model of the SNP was developed in 2016 at the boundary scale, and a test model was developed at the landscape facial scale.

The source data included DEMs, landform characteristics, geological and soil maps, forest inventory data, the vegetation model derived from Landsat-8 image classification. Totally 5 terrain and 8 landscape types were derived. The landscape model has been published (СС BY) at the Portal for ArcGIS [13]. In 2019 the methodology will be scaled-up to the pine forest part of the national park. The workout of the landscape facial model continues (82 facial types in the test version); it will be finished in 2018-2019 [7, 19, 20].

In 2017 spatial modelling of seasonal dynamics of bird habitats of GNP was carried out using the mobile, Internet-collected and remote sensing data. Modelling results concerning rare bird species are of restricted usage. The results will be published in 2018.

In 2016-2017 the habitat suitability of watershed and hill oak forests of the SNP has been assessed for the European Badger (Meles meles). Te source data included badger burrows inventory (23 burrows), satellite images Landsat 8, vectored layer of relief contours on the national park territory, vectored layer of water bodies. During survey such environmental factors influencing location of badger burrows as forest cover, forest soil moisture degree, terrain, the distance to hydrographic features were assessed. As a result, the score of habitat suitability was calculated by “the sum of layers” formula and the badger habitat suitability map was developed. Further survey in 2017-2018 aims at assessment of anthropogenic pressure on badger habitats. The data obtained will be used for developing the SNP Management Plans [7, 21].


In 2017 the analysis of recreational infrastructure of national parks in the Kharkiv and neighbouring regions was done. The models of density and accessibility of ecological trails, resting sites, observation points, water springs and beaches, and touristic visitation intensity were developed. The models of violations of nature resource use regimes were created, as well [22].

For the national nature parks of the Kharkiv region, the story maps were generated illustrating maior touristic attractions [3, 4]. For the GNP a touristic map containing full infrastructure – POI, routes, navigation and transportation – was created in AGOL in 2016 [4].

Maps and Atlases Design

In the frames of regular reporting (The Chronicles of Nature) by national parks that are within jurisdiction of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources of Ukraine, in 2016-2017 more than 15 cartography products were developed using the ESRI technology [7, 8]. The main feature of the national parks annual reports is that these are restricted-use materials containing precise maps and location schemes of rare and endangered species distribution, and only roughly schematic (“buried-data”) maps are available for the public use.

Within research activities of NUKh in 2016-2017 the spatial data were systematised on sections of the DNP Atlas that is to be realised on the base of GIS-technologies. All data (more than 30 sets) were arranged and divided onto 4 sections. Each section is represented with separate data base [8, 14]. Beginning 2016 the DNP Atlas development is supported by the University Modernisation Fund [16, 17].

The multi-scale landscape map of the SNP was developed, too. The general landscape maps are created at the scale of 1:300 000 to 1:150 000, landscape boundary maps – at the scale of 1:150 000 to 1:50 000, and landscape facial maps (prototypes) – at 1: 50 000 and even more detailed [13, 20].

Mobile and On-line Data Collection

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Mobile data collection

One of convenient features of the use of the ESRI technology complex is a possibility to collect data on the base of preset vector layers by means of both mobile devises and web applications accessed from a browser. For the specialists who use desktop products the basic through stylisation is especially comfortable. During fieldworks, an open software is actively used, at which the general data structure allows easy heterogeneous collection with further aggregation into solid sets suitable for analysis and publishing [23].

In 2016-2017 the data models were developed and data were collected by means of the ESRI mobile technologies on the following thematic directions:

  • Groundwater springs:
    • Three groups of parameters: general information, accessibility and accomplishment, water quality and composition (15 parameters in total)
    • More than 40 observations
  • Rare plants of chalk grasslands:
    • 24 plant species, 12 habitat types, 8 exposure types, photos
    • Test forms, 9 observations
  • Animal road kills (heterogeneous data collection):
    • Five sub-domains: amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals, other.
    • Seven groups of parameters: date, animal sub-domain, animal species (73 species), number of killed animals, observation type (2 types), notes, author
  • European Beaver Census (Castor fiber):
    • Seven groups of parameters: plot number, date, tree species, the number of fully destroyed (gnawed) trees, the number of partially destroyed trees, chisel teeth size, author (18 parameters in total); 66 records in 2016; in 2017 census is scheduled in November
  • Line transects for the common bird counts used in the youth naturalistic education:
    • 6 transect types for 17 the most common urban and park bird species, 2 types of direction, photos
    • More than 100 observations
  • Landscapes:
    • 2 types of landscape boundaries, 3 role types, 12 landform types, 6 types of moisture regime, 14 soil types, 19 types of dominant vegetation cover, 3 types of bryophyte cover
    • More than 100 observations

Online applications for distributed data collection

References on the open on-line applications are listed in the web version of the ESRI Conservation Program Report [24].

  • White Stork (Ciconia ciconia):
    • Data are collected on 3 categories – occupied nests, unoccupied nests, location info. For the nest description 5 obligate and 4 facultative parameters are used. Totally more than 350 records have been obtained, of which 240 are location info.
    • Collection of records from NPs and volunteers of EA, NECU, SRS, WWF
    • Data on 30-60 occupied and 6-12 unoccupied nests are processed annually. The most regular observations are obtained from the vicinities of the SNP – 30 objects.
    • Nest location data are open-source (СС0), but semantic data are restricted for the internal use only.
    • Rare bird species (the number of observations and general data base structure):
      • More than 100 observations were obtained and classified by 5 main parameters; 16 observation types (according to EBCC criteria), bird species, comments, photos
      • Data are restricted for the internal use only.
  • Amphibians and Reptiles:
    • More than 8000 observations by 5 main parameters
    • Data are restricted for the internal use; only buried data are published.
  • Rare plant species of chalk grasslands:
    • The model was developed in 2017 and is tested now
    • Data are restricted for the internal use; only buried data are published.
  • Wildfires:
    • Collection of records from volunteers of EA, NECU, SRS and WWF

In 2018 the application for data collection on the European Badger and additional amphibian species is to be launched.

Internet Applications and Data Services

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Basic Data Services

These are intended for visualization and usage in the thematic studies. During the reported period the following object services have been published: relief contours (GNP), hydrography (GNP, DNP), transportation network (GNP), buildings (GNP), forests (GNP, SNP), forest inventories (GNP, SNP), functional zoning (GNP, SNP), excursion trails (GNP) [23, 24, 25, 26]. The services of heavy basic raster data of total volume of more than 500 Gb are supported, too, including: PlanetScope (DNP), archive topographic plans (GNP) and derived DEMs, archive aerial survey photographs, unmanned aerial vehicles data. Data have been published on the internal server to be accessed by desktop applications and partially on the AGOL under different license types mentioned in the services metadata [3, 4, 5, 13].


Story Maps and Internet Maps

Placed cartographic applications are utilized to popularize the usage of open data on national parks among researchers as a visualization of the research results, and for touristic and educational purposes. For easiness of control and provision of an access to the applications, the common group «ECP StoryMaps» is used [24].

  • SroryMap Tour «Attractions of the Slobozhans’kyi National Park» that describes a number of attractions of the national park and its vicinities.
  • SroryMap Journal «Scenery places of the Gomil’sha Forests National Park», that presents attractions of that national park.
  • StoryMap Series «Animal road kills around the «Slobozhans’kyi National Park», where results of 4-year animal road kills survey are presented.
  • StoryMap Series «OSM as a Basemap» illustrating the completeness of developed coverage for the nature protected areas.
  • SroryMap Journal «UAV PAs Monitoring»: examples of nature protected areas for which the aerial land survey was done by means of unmanned aerial vehicles.

Integration with other services

ArcGIS for SharePoint – is used for maps and geodata integration into internal project management systems of the NUKh, EA and NECU (totally 16 maps have been integrated).

ArcGIS Editor for OpenStreetMap, JOSM – is used for supporting vectored basic data on the national parks, for vectoring the NP boundaries in the frames of the project on open cadastre of the nature protected areas. The integration allows easily obtaining the basic data in a way of files and services. During 2016-2017 more than 7500 basic geometry objects were collected on the nature protected areas [23, 25, 27, 28, 29].

Mapillary for ArcGIS are used for managing the photo and video geo-tagging. By means of extensions the service is plugged to ArcGIS Pro and ArcGIS Online, thus making possible to integrate tracks and photo pictures at the street level with the desktop projects. During 2016-2017 the consortium organisations’ staff and volunteers have collected more than 187000 photo pictures on the nature protected areas [29].


To optimize consulting and support, in 2016 the inquiry form was developed. This allowed minimising time expenditures on primary communication to clarify the terms of service and tasks. Inquiries received via online form are transferred to Trello-board (Kanban) as single card notes. The inquiries are responded by the volunteers. In 2016-2017 42 inquiries were processed [1].

In 2016-2017 consulting students, researchers and volunteers continued in a way of annual seminars and several trainings. In seminars, the experience in the ESRI technologies usage was communicated as 8 presentations and 2 master classes (FIELD data collection by means of the Collector and Restoration of borders of nature protected areas in ArcMap) [1, 30].

In 2016-2017 the prosecutor’s office’s staffs were consulted at the continuous base to process the cases of nature protection regime violation. Within this process experts analysed available spatial materials and develop the reported with cartographic materials to visualise the violation cases for a suitable use in the decision-making.


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