Oxford Long-Term Ecology Lab

Long-Term Ecology, Biodiversity Conservation, and Environmental Stewardship Technologies

Oxford Environmental Tools

Oxford Environmental Tools are a suite of web-based systems developed from research carried out by the University of Oxford’s Long-term Ecology Lab (OxLEL).

Our goal is to harness remote sensing and web-based technologies to support: the protection of high value ecosystems; restoration of degraded habitats; and the reduction of biodiversity loss.

To achieve this we work with a wide variety of partners to develop accessible tools that are responsive to the land-use planning and management needs of business, Government and the third sector. This approach enables us to develop fit-for-purpose technologies to identify and quantify natural capital and associated ecosystem services.


Local Ecological Footprinting Tool

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Purpose – To provide a cost effective web-based system, using remote sensing and species databases, to generate spatial information that supports conservation and land-use planning throughout the world.

Information provided (at 30m resolution): land cover classes; number of globally threatened terrestrial vertebrate and plant species; beta-diversity of terrestrial vertebrates and plants; habitat fragmentation; wetland habitat connectivity; number of migratory species; and vegetation resilience.

LEFT helps businesses minimise the environmental impacts of their land-use activities by providing spatial data on the quality and relative scarcity of species and their associated ecosystems.

The tool automatically processes a series of high-quality datasets using standard published algorithms to produce maps at 30m resolution. These results are aggregated to produce a single map of relative ecological value that can be directly downloaded from the LEFT website.


EcoSet (in development)

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Purpose – A suite of ecosystem service layers that enables land-use planners to estimate and communicate the economic and non-market values that exist within a specified landscape.

Information provided (at 30m resolution): Pollination, cultural services, carbon storage and, soil erosion prevention; water flow regulation.

The Ecosystems Approach is increasingly being adopted as a way of managing landscapes and for planning policy interventions. The related Landscape Approach, increasingly adopted in development sectors, also uses holistic place-based natural resources planning. EcoSet aims to provide decision-makers and land managers with a framework to provide relevant ‘joined-up’ information which can be interpreted easily by all sectors.

Long-term environmental data is incorporated with the aim of providing a dynamic measure of the rate of the ecosystem responses to climate and anthropogenic change.


NatureTrade (completion date 2018)   life

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Purpose – A web-based platform that provides an efficient and scalable marketplace for ecosystem services.

Ecosystem Services covered (at 30m resolution): Soil erosion protection; Water flow regulation; Pollination services; Carbon storage; Recreational amenity provision.

We are working with landowners and businesses across Europe to design a web-based system that functions as a scalable market place for ‘ecosystem services’.

The platform provides web-based tools which harness remote sensing technologies to transition the concept of Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) from the domains of academia and policy into the land management and business sectors.

NaturEtrade provides land managers with ecosystem service values for their land and thorough a secure platform enables payments to flow for the provision of these services from beneficiaries.


Consultancy and workshops

Production of bespoke environmental data can be commissioned on request. We also run workshops periodically at the University of Oxford or at your organisation. Please feel free to contact OxLEL to discuss any requirements you may have.


Our work and the Sustainable Development Goals

We have developed these technologies as we believe that highly efficient and effective tools can be developed to help address a number of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, with a key underpinning goal being: Goal 15: Sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, halt biodiversity loss.