Dr Beth Cole

Research Fellow in Landscape Decisions

School/Department: Geography Geology & The Environment, School of



I completed my PhD entitled ‘High Resolution Remote Sensing for Landscape Scale Restoration of Peatland’ at the University of Manchester. This research investigated the application of airborne hyperspectral remote sensing to monitor the vegetation response to a large scale peatland restoration project in the uplands of the Peak District National Park in the UK.

Working as a postdoc at the University of Leicester I have focused on landcover mapping leading the UK element of the Copernicus Land Monitoring service since 2012 as well as coordinating research into using Earth Observation for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Service monitoring. I have continued research in to remote sensing of peatlands working to develop methods of monitoring peatland condition in South East Asia.

I currently work as a research fellow leading the synthesis on the programme coordination team for the Landscape Decisions Programme. This is a large interdisciplinary SPF programme aiming at delivering better evidence-based decisions within UK landscapes through research collaboration with policy and land management partners to work towards a decision-making framework that will inform how land is used.


My remote sensing research has always been very applied concerned with how earth observation can help understand responses of land systems inform the linkages between biodiversity and ecosystem services and the change in land cover and land use. More recently I have shifted my focus to research into landscape decisions. This has broadened my outlook synthesising and building upon research from multiple disciplines building a network with social scientists as well as ecological modellers to address the challenge to deliver better decisions for UK landscapes. We are working on complex multifaceted problems to address some of the pressing issues at the research and policy interface around how best to manage our land.


Landscape Decisions PCT. UKRI Strategic Priorities fund. 2019-present.

Copernicus Land Monitoring. European Environment Agency funding. 2 large grants 2012-2015 and 2017-2021.

PASSES: Peatland Assessment in SE Asia by Satellite (PASSES). UK Space Agency finding 2018-2020.

BESS-EO. Earth Observation for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services and Sustainability. NERC funded. 2015-2017


(0) Cole, B., Smith, G., and Balzter, H. (2018). Acceleration and fragmentation of CORINE land cover changes in the United Kingdom from 2006-2012 detected by Copernicus IMAGE2012 satellite data.  International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation. 70, 107-122. doi: 10.1016/j.jag.2018.06.003.


Press and media

Landscape decisions.

Ecosystem service modelling and monitoring.

Landcover change


I am a named representative for the UK National Reference Centre (NRC) for Land Cover for the European Environment Information and Observation Network (EIONET). The NRC network of experts are specialists in their field to advise the National Focal Points (NFP) DEFRA in the case of the UK on matters feeding in to and out of the European Environment Agency (EEA) and European Commission.

I am Coordinator of the Research Staff Advisory Group (RSAG). The group aims to foster a community for research staff work for representation in the School of Geography Geology and Environment and the career development of research staff.

Between 2013-2021 I was a trustee of the Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry Society (RSPSoc) Council. This is the learned society for remote sensing. My position in the council was Chair of the Special Interest Group Committee. 

Media coverage

November 2017: BBC website feature on the CLC2012 results.

August 2017: Live interview on BBC 2 Victoria Derbyshire program. Feature on forest fires in France appeared as specialist relating to mapping risk of wildfire areas.

Summer 2015: Press coverage for launch of CLC2012 including articles in the Independent Guardian and numerous local media outlets.


PhD: High resolution remote sensing for landscape scale restoration of peatland. Funded by a Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) studentship with CASE Sponsorship by Natural England. Geography School of Environment and Development. The University of Manchester.

MSc. Environmental Management and Earth Observation. Funded by European Union Social Fund. Thesis title: Potential for monitoring volcanoes using synthetic aperture radar interferometry: Mount Etna. Institute of Engineering Surveying and Space Geodesy. The University of Nottingham.

BSc. Geography. School of Geography Earth and Environmental Sciences. The University of Birmingham. 

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