ESA title

Biodiversity Kick-Start

  • Activity Kick-start Activity
  • Opening date 02-09-2019
  • Closing date 25-10-2019


Biological diversity is the variety of life found in any of, or across, Earth’s ecosystems. It is fundamental to life on Earth since it provides oxygen, food, clean water, fertile soil, medicines, shelter, protection from storms and floods, fibres for clothing, a stable climate and even recreation. It is estimated that the services provided by ecosystems are worth trillions of dollars, more than double the world’s GDP! Biodiversity loss in Europe alone costs the continent €450m a year or, 3% of its annual gross domestic product. However, the current state of biodiversity is ominous; overpopulation and overconsumption are driving a biodiversity crisis as people continue to expend resources in an unsustainable fashion. Space assets and satellite technologies, combined with advanced and innovative ways to use them, can make a crucial difference in the future of the biodiversity on Earth. 


  • Agriculture. Agriculture is the largest contributor to biodiversity loss and the world’s biggest driver of deforestation. Reducing the food industry’s toll on biodiversity is therefore a critically important change to make for the future of the planet. Helpful developments are being implemented in two ways: land sparing (improving efficiency to intensify agricultural productivity and release other land for protection); and land sharing (improving sustainability through biodiversity-friendly farming over larger areas). For these methods to efficiently conserve, sustain and restore agricultural biodiversity, a view of the bigger picture is needed.

  • Fisheries and Aquaculture. Many ‘modern’ fishing methods, implemented on a global scale, have devastating consequences for ocean ecosystems and biodiversity. Overfishing, as well as by-catching and ghost fishing, diminishes the biodiversity of an ecosystem in an approach that is neither sustainable nor efficient in relation to food production. Combined with an industrial scale habitat destruction through dredging, seafloor trawling and blast fishing, this equates to a need for both large and small scale improvements in the aquaculture industry. Currently, satellite applications could revitalise country size ecosystems alongside substantial scope for positive change in the economics of the fishing industry.

  • Biofuel. Eighty percent of present day transportation fuels are derived from petroleum; including petrol, diesel, liquefied petroleum gas, jet fuel and marine fuel. However, biofuels could be both a suitable and sustainable alternative to petroleum, substantially improving climate change and biodiversity. Nonetheless, redevelopment and innovation is essential to improve on the predicaments of first generation biofuels. Possible implementations of this, spanning from waste water of farms, forestry and domestic leftovers to miscanthus grass, could redefine use of poor quality growing land. This candeliver a reduced impact on global food production and a beneficial alternative to petroleum.

  • Transport Networks. Transport networks, including roads, shipping and air routes, have detrimental effects on biodiversity. Roads fragment ecosystems, causing migration changes; ground-level ozone curbs crop yields; and hazardous fuel substances wreak havoc on marine life. Satellite applications can be of particular use in improving the biodiversity on both small and large scales, with innovations such as crossing structures (designed to help animals get safely over or under roads), more efficient routing of ships, trucks and aircraft and monitoring of emissions.


Innovative and advancing technologies, especially those that can see the bigger picture, are essential to efficiently working with complex matters such as large-scale ecosystems. Such infrastructure is crucial when organising a landscape that has both environmental and practical pressures associated with it.

Earth Observation (EO)  

Earth observation can monitor and report on a wide range of biotic and abiotic factors; including natural and agricultural plants as well as climate, hazard and weather factors. Combinations of which can be implemented to create biodiversity protection and monitoring systems that assist on farms and nature reserves anywhere across the globe. With advancing and innovative technology it is possible efficiently manage water through monitoring crop development and deriving evapotranspiration data. Which, if implemented appropriately, can conserve water use and reduce costs of irrigation.

Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) 

GNSS can provide critical information and data collection on agricultural and aqua-cultural machinery or livestock. In combination with wearable’s or integrated sensors, these systems allow tracking activity levels and positions of individuals, equipment and vehicles, such to support the geo-localisation of and routing of vehicles and livestock, whilst minimising the impact on the biodiversity of the habitat. Leading-edge satellite technology has allowed for new developments and innovations such as automatic steering of remotely controlled farm equipment; ‘virtual fencing’ for livestock and geo-tagging services for data collection or remotely position establishing. 

Satellite Communications (Satcom) 

Satcom enables isolated vicinities to be connected securely and reliably to the internet, regardless of location. Itallows the integration of more complex and efficient technologies and systems, therefore reducing the environmental impact of many industries, including agriculture and aquaculture. Providing secure communication connections with any aircraft, maritime vessel or or vehicle makes video, image, data and audio communication possible and enables more efficient gathering and distribution of any such data.


Kick-start Activities elaborate the business opportunity and the technical viability of new applications and services that exploit one or more space assets (e.g. Satellite Communications, Satellite Navigation, Earth Observation, Human Space Flight Technology). This call for Kick-start Activities is dedicated to the theme "Biodiversity", which means that the call is open to companies that intend to develop space-enabled biodiversity applications and services.   


1.Register by completing the online questionnaire on ESA-STAR Registration (this provides for the minimum ‘light registration’)

2. Download the official tender documentation (Invitation to Tender) and create a ‘Bidder Restricted Area’ via EMITS Reference AO-10011 from September 2nd 2019.

3.Write your proposal and obtain a Letter of Support from your National Delegation, if needed (see Authorisation of Funding section below).

4.Submit your proposal via ESA-STAR Tendering by the 25th October 2019 13:00 hr CEST.


Germany, Luxembourg, Norway and the United Kingdom have pre-approved funding for this Kick-start theme. Switzerland is not supporting Kick-start Activities.

Applications from any other Member State will require a 'Letter of Authorisation' from their National Delegation

In case you intend to submit a proposal and your company/organisation resides in another country, you need to contact your National Delegation as soon as possible.