Environmental-economic accounts with Earth observation data

This web page provides material and outputs from a Fenner Synthesis workshop on 10-11 May 2018 in Canberra.

The workshop was organised by:

  • Fenner School of Environment & Society, Australian National University (ANU) [link]
  • Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) [link]
  • Australian Government Department of the Environment and Energy (DoEE) [link]
  • Geoscience Australia (GA) [link]


Environmental-economic accounting continues to receive attention as a robust means of measuring and reporting on our environment and to quantify the societal and economic benefits it generates. However, while the usefulness of environmental-economic accounts (EEA) is widely acknowledged, there remain several institutional and technical challenges to making environmental-economic accounting a reality for Australia.

Important among those challenges is the requirement for spatial data on different aspects of environmental composition and condition (e.g., land cover type, vegetation health) and the natural resources and other ecosystem services it provides (e.g., biomass, soil protection). The scientific literature shows that Earth observation should be able to provide at least some of these data in a cost-efficient manner, but it currently does not.


This expert workshop brought together experts in (a) the use of environmental-economic accounting data, (b) the framing and production of EEA, and (c) satellite Earth observation of environmental variables. The goal was to identify the main constraints and opportunities to the better use of Earth observation in environmental-economic accounting.

Workshop documents

  • Workshop Programme [link]
  • Workshop Synthesis Report  [link]
  • Workshop Notes and Materials [link]


  • Beth Brunoro (DoEE): The Common National Approach to Environmental-Economic Accounting [link]
  • Jacky Hodges (ABS): Earth Observation Data and the ABS [link]
  • Steve Hatfield-Dodds (Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics): An Environmental-Economic Accounts user perspective [no slides]
  • François Soulard (Statistics Canada): Earth Observation for Official Statistics at Statistics Canada [link]
  • Jacinta Holloway (Queensland University of Technology): Implementing Earth Observation Data for Official Statistics Considerations for National Statistical Offices [link]
  • Carl Obst (IDEEA Group): Introduction to the role of the SEEA [link]
  • Albert van Dijk (ANU): Australia’s Environment – Account‐ready Earth observation data? [link]
  • Adam Lewis (GA): From Analysis Ready Data to account ready data [link]
  • Shanti Reddy (DoEE): EO in the National Carbon Accounting System [link]
  • Jacinta Holloway (Queensland University of Technology): Earth Observation Data for Official Statistics and Environmental Accounts: The ground truth ‘problem’ [link]
  • Mark Eigenraam (IDEEA Group): Environmental accounts with Earth observation data [link]
  • Kristen Williams (CSIRO): National Mapping of biodiversity habitat condition for comparative assessments across regions [link]
  • Norman Mueller (GA): Analysis Ready to Account Ready [link]
  • Stuart Phinn (Earth Observation Australia): Earth Observation Australia Operational phase 2017‐2020 [link]


Key references and resources

  • United Nations et al. 2017 Earth Observations for Official Statistics: Satellite Imagery and Geospatial Data Task Team Report. [link]
  • ANU, 2018. Australia’s Environment Explorer. website, http://www.ausenv.online
  • Global Strategy to improve Agricultural and Rural Statistics (GSARS). 2017. Handbook on Remote Sensing for Agricultural Statistics. GSARS Handbook: Rome. [link]
  • Lewis et al., 2017. The Australian Geoscience Data Cube — Foundations and lessons learned. Remote Sensing of Environment 202, 276-292, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rse.2017.03.015.
  • Schröter, Matthias, Roy P. Remme, Elham Sumarga, David N. Barton, Lars Hein, 2013. Lessons learned for spatial modelling of ecosystem services in support of ecosystem accounting. Ecosystem Services 13, 64-69, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecoser.2014.07.003
  • Vardon, M., Peter Burnett and Stephen Dovers, 2016. The accounting push and the policy pull: balancing environment and economic decisions. Ecological Economics 124, 145-152. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolecon.2016.01.021

Other relevant references

  • Australian Earth Observation Community Coordinating Group (2016) Australian Earth Observation Community Plan 2026: Delivering essential information and services for Australia’s future’ [link]
  • European Environment Agency, 2015. Task 3.2 – Generalization and aggregation rules set. Assistance to the EEA in the production of the new CORINE Land Cover (CLC) inventory, including the support to the harmonisation of national monitoring for integration at pan-European level – Database development and semantic services. [link]
  • Global Strategy to improve Agricultural and Rural Statistics (GSARS). 2015. Handbook on Master Sampling Frames for Agricultural Statistics: Frame Development, Sample Design and Estimation. UN Statistical Commission, Rome. [link]
  • Purss, M.B, et al., 2015. Unlocking the Australian Landsat Archive – From dark data to High Performance Data infrastructures, GeoResJ 6, 135-140, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.grj.2015.02.010.
  • Mueller, N., et al., 2016. Water observations from space: Mapping surface water from 25 years of Landsat imagery across Australia, Remote Sensing of Environment 174, 341-352, ISSN 0034-4257, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rse.2015.11.003.