A range of enviroLENS tools and services are applied across several use cases in cooperation with national and local partners to illustrate the power and flexibility of the eLENS Portal to tackle different environmental issues.

CAse 1: Environmental Impact Assessment Process in the Energy Projects (DLA Piper)

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a procedure used to examine the environmental impacts and consequences, both beneficial and adverse, of a proposed energy infrastructure project and to ensure that these effects have been taken into account in the project’s design phase. The EIA is the process of identifying, predicting, evaluating, mitigating the biophysical, social and other relevant effects of development proposals prior to major decisions being taken and commitments made. The public and private energy projects which have likely significant effects on the environment, make subject to an EIA prior to their development consent being given to proceed with the project.

The main EIA objectives are (i) to ensure that environmental considerations which are explicitly addressed and incorporated into the development decision making process; (ii) to anticipate and avoid, minimize or offset the adverse significant biophysical, social, other relevant effects of development proposals; (iii) to protect the productivity and capacity of natural systems and the ecological processes which maintain their functions; and (iv) to promote development that is sustainable and optimizes resource use and management opportunities.

Satellite remote sensing is a powerful and efficient tool to ensure acquisition of images over wide areas in short time and with great repetition that can be used in environmental impact studies. It can be used in EIA to monitor and detect the impacts caused by urban development, mining and land changes that appeared due to the human or natural factors. This use case is concerned with evaluating the potential of EO services in supporting EIA processes in past and present Energy projects of DLA Piper.

Case 2: Force Majeure Events in the Energy Contracts (DLA Piper)

Force majeure is a legal principle, either provided for by contract or imposed on parties by law or courts, which fully or partially excuse one of both parties to a contract from performing contractual obligations in certain specified circumstances. These circumstances have usually to be unforeseen and out of the control of the party relying on the defence of force majeure.

Force majeure clause contains a specific list of events including natural disasters like hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and weather disturbances sometimes referred to as “acts of God“. Other covered events may include war, terrorism or threats of terrorism, civil disorder, labour strikes or disruptions, fire, disease or medical epidemics or outbreaks.

It is the best practice for a party considering asserting force majeure to analyse and evaluate whether there are alternatives that would make partial performance possible in the energy contracts. Good faith and honest communications with the other party(ies) to the contract are key. The damages and loss arisen from the force majeure events and non-performance of the contractual obligations occur also the insurance companies’ involvement in the force majeure events.

Within the framework of the force majeure use case; EO services will be applied as an evidence for identifying and approving the occurrence and the impact of force majeure event(s) relating to the natural disasters, environmental and social circumstances.

Case 3: Oil and Gas Pipeline Monitoring For Safety and Environment (DLA Piper)

The system of oil and gas pipelines serves as a national and international network to move the resources needed from production ports to consumers as efficiently as possible. The rules and regulations governing the operation and monitoring of natural gas and oil transmission pipelines vary significantly from country to country. Gas and oil pipelines are routinely inspected and monitored by the operational organizations during the planning, construction, operation, and decommissioning phases.

The monitoring methods most widely used for natural gas transmission pipelines include foot patrols along the pipeline route and aerial surveillance using small plans or helicopters. Environmental monitoring of the pipelines involves the assessment of conditions of vegetation along and across the pipeline; assessment of environmental disturbance during construction and operational phases; detection and monitoring of spills; and impacts from pipelines and facilities; determination of slope stability; identification and location of land-use change including agricultural, forest, industrial and residential; evaluation of recovery and rehabilitation from accidental spills and decommissions; detection of human encroachments.

Satellite EO supports a wide range of disaster types, including the very long-term monitoring of climate phenomena. Within the framework of the pipeline monitoring use case, enviroLENS will evaluate how EO services can be applied to monitor and detect disturbances to the pipeline network by accidental spills, encroachment from human activities, and land form changes due to fires, floods, and other natural events that fall under the Force Majeure clause.

Case 4: Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (IUCN)

From 2009 through 2017 IUCN has been coordinating a Forest Law Enforcement and Governance Programme under the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument East Countries (ENPI FLEG I and II). The main objective of ENPI FLEG II was to improve forest law enforcement and governance in 7 countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Russia, and Ukraine), together containing more than 20% of the world’s forests. The underpinning knowledge around forest governance, addressed by the FLEG Programme has helped to create the conditions to support the implementation of various forest related interventions. FLEG has initiated capacity development activities whereby practicing judges trained forestry staff in gathering evidence and preparing cases for court that are procedurally robust and more likely to lead to convictions of those engaging in illegal activities.

Building on the experiences from FLEG, this use case will focus on illegal logging and deforestation monitoring in Armenia. Within the use case, data from ENPI-FLEG and innovative EO technologies will be applied to build a historic case to demonstrate the power of the eLENS portal to detect and monitor illegal deforestation activities and to test the usage of EO in forest law enforcement.

Case 5: Infrastructure development in Protected Areas (IUCN)

Construction and land-use changes in protected areas are highly regulated and have to comply with the highest environmental standards. Yet, Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEA) and Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) are not always prepared or complied with. Further, Protected Area Authorities in the Western Balkans lack the capacity to effectively manage and monitor such activities, potentially causing severe damage to vital ecosystems and wildlife along with loss of biodiversity. The use case will apply EO technologies to support the comprehensive assessment of the cumulative impacts of planned and existing infrastructure and development plans and other major projects on the landscape, with particular focus on coastal areas in Albania and Montenegro.

In Albania, the use case will focus on the Buna River Velipojë Protected Landscape comprises one of the most important coastal wetlands areas of the country. The area was designated as a protected landscape in 2005 and is listed under the Ramsar Convention. Being part of the European Green Belt, the landscape is also an Important Bird and Plant Area. Unsustainable tourism activities combined with large infrastructure development in the coastal area that also encompasses its core zone caused many adverse impacts affecting natural habitats, leading to the pollution of marine and freshwaters and disturbing wilderness areas, particularly in the peak summer season. In Montenegro, the use case will focus on the Ulcinj Salina, which is part of the Bojana-Buna Delta and one of the largest salinas in the Mediterranean. The area is home to a number of rare bird species and popular with bird watchers. Except for buildings and salt panes, Ulcinj Slina became a Nature Reserve in 2012. Evidence derived from EO data may be used in support of declaring the area a nationally protected site.

Case 6: Land-use change in UKRAINE (IUCN)

Within this use case, EO methodologies will be applied to support the monitoring of illegal land-use changes.

More information coming soon.