Cultural and Natural Heritage

Heritage SIG Chairs
Jolanda Patruno, Exploitation Platforms Support Engineer c/o ESA-ESRIN and EARSeL co-Chair on Cultural and Natural Heritage and Mario Hernandez, EARSeL co-Chair on Cultural and Natural Heritage and Vice-President International Society of Digital Earth.

Date:16 September 2022

Special Session's Summary
Natural Heritage sites comprises a large variety of worldwide areas (national parks, biosphere reserves, World Heritage sites, etc. Natural Heritage refers to the whole set of elements of biodiversity, flora and fauna, ecosystems and geological structures. Natural Heritage sites are part of our natural resources. Natural World Heritage sites provide crucial habitats to many iconic species, as well as protect rare ecological processes and stunning landscapes. Cultural Heritage sites fall into the category of tangible culture (such as buildings, monuments, landscapes, historic cities, archaeological areas, cultural landscapes, and many other forms). Cultural heritage gives people a sense of unity and belonging within a group and allows them to better understand previous generations and the history of where they come from. Cultural heritage implies a shared bond and our belonging to a community. However, both Natural and Cultural heritage sites are not only exclusive protected areas where no humans live. On the contrary, Natural and Cultural heritage sites do host important populations of people, these sites provide jobs and most of them are extremely important for their contribution to the national economy (e.g. tourism, etc.). The Special Session Earth Observation and Remote Sensing are emerging technologies that slowly, through a series of successful worldwide showcases are showing to be extremely beneficial in the support of Natural and Cultural heritage sites, for example in the monitoring, preserving, managing, disseminating and promoting. There are many threats to these heritage sites (e.g. climate change, anthropogenic activities, etc.). In all these themes EO is assisting through applications assessing land cover changes, land use changes, interferometry to assess the movement of buildings, etc. The Special Session aims to bring together both EO and Heritage experts to present and discuss how EO is currently being used for the benefit of Natural and Cultural heritage. Presentations will be followed by round table discussions in order to make the point on how EO is currently supporting these heritage sites. For this Special Session, we consider EO not only as using satellite sensors but in the overall general concept of non-invasive sensors, including satellite sensors, laser scanning, rapid prototyping, red-green-blue-depth (RGB-D) sensors, high dynamic range imaging, spherical and infrared imaging, mobile mapping systems, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), etc.

See below images from Maya Sacred Site (Copyrights: 3D model of a cultural heritage site (Chichen-Itza, Mexico) - Cyark) and the astonishing waterfalls of Iguazu (Copyrights: Pleiades satellite 0.5m resolution - CNES)



Scientific Committee

Contact details:
Mario Hernandez
EARSeL co-Chair on Cultural and Natural Heritage
Vice-President International Society of Digital Earth

Jolanda Patruno
Exploitation Platforms Support Engineer c/o ESA-ESRIN
EARSeL co-Chair on Cultural and Natural Heritage

You can find more information about the EARSeL Specialist Interest Group Cultural and Natural Heritage here.