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Drones and satellite imaging to make forest defense pay|Horizon: the EU Research & Development publication|European Commission

‘If you can determine the biomass you can determine the carbon and get a number which has worth for a nation,’ stated Pedro Freire da Silva, a satellite and flight system expert at Deimos Engenharia, a Portuguese technology company.

International banks, such as the World Bank and the European Financial Investment Bank, provide developing nations with economic support to keep forests’carbon stocks intact through

the UN REDD + programme. The more carbon an establishing country can reveal it keeps in its forests, the more cash the federal government could get, which would give them a higher incentive to secure these lands. According to Silva, these nations typically lack the tools to figure out the exact quantity of carbon saved in their forests and that implies they might be missing out on funding.

‘If you have a 10% mistake in your carbon stock (evaluation), that can have a monetary worth,’ he said, adding that it likewise takes federal governments a great deal of time and energy to collect the appropriate data about their forests.

To resolve these difficulties, a task called COREGAL developed automated low-priced drones that map biomass. They put an unique sensing unit on drones that fly over forests and analyse International Positioning System (GPS) and Galileo satellite signals as they bounce back through a tree canopy, which then exposes the biomass density of a location and, in turn, the carbon stocks.

‘If people triggering deforestation know that there are (drone) flight projects or individuals going to the field to keep an eye on forests it can demotivate them.’

Pedro Freire da Silva, Satellite and Flight System Professional, Deimos Engenharia

‘The more leaves you have, the more power (from GPS and Galileo) is lost,’ said Silva who coordinated the task. This means when the drone gets weaker satellite navigation readings there is more biomass below.

‘If you combine this data with satellite data we get a more accurate map of biomass than either would (alone),’ he included.

The project trialled their drone prototype in Portugal, with Brazil in mind as the target end user as it is on the frontline of international logging. According to Brazilian government information, an area about five times to size of London was destroyed between August 2017 and July this year.

COREGAL’s drones might end up making it possible for countries such as Brazil to access more from environment funds, in turn producing a more powerful reward for federal governments to safeguard their forests. Silva likewise thinks the drones could serve as a deterrent against prohibited logging.

‘If individuals triggering deforestation understand that there are (drone) flight projects or people going to the field to keep track of forests it can demotivate them,’ he stated. ‘It is like a guard system.’

In the meantime, governments in other developing nations still need the tools to assist them battle logging. According to Dr Thomas Häusler, a forest and environment expert at GAF, a German earth observation business, the lots of drivers of deforestation make it extremely challenging to sustainably handle forests

.'(Deforestation) varies between areas and even in areas you have different drivers,’ stated Dr Häusler. ‘In some countries they (federal governments) offer concessions for wood logging and companies are (then) going to huge (untouched forest) locations to selectively log the greatest value trees.’

Logging like this is happening in Brazil, central Africa and Southeast Asia. When it happens, Dr Häusler says this can trigger big civilian casualties since loggers leave behind roads that regional populations utilize to gain access to formerly untouched forests which they further convert for farming or harvest wood for energy.

Demand for timber and farming produce from industrialized countries can likewise drive deforestation in developing nations due to the fact that their federal governments see the forest as a source of financial development and then allow expansion.

With such social, political and economic dependency, it can be hard, and pricey, for governments to implement preventative procedures. According to Dr Häusler, to protect unblemished forests these governments ought to be compensated for battling logging.

‘To be compensated you need strong (forest) management and observation (tools),’ stated Dr Häusler, who is likewise the planner of EOMonDis, a task establishing an Earth-observation-based forest tracking system that intends to support governments.

Cause and effect

They combine high-resolution data from the European Guard satellites, available every five days through Copernicus, the EU’s Earth observation system, along with information from the North American Landsat-8 satellite.

Automated processing using unique algorithms generates comprehensive maps on the current and past land use and forest situation to determine the carbon-rich forest locations. The project also has access to satellite information going as far back as the 1970s which can be utilized to determine just how much area has actually been affected by deforestation.

Like COREGAL, utilizing these maps, and the details they contain, a worth is placed on the most carbon-rich forest areas, indicating nations can access more cash from worldwide banks. The task is almost ended up and they quickly want to have a commercially feasible system for use.

‘The primary focus is the climate change reporting process for nations who desire compensation in fighting climate change,’ said Dr Häusler. ‘We can support this process by showing the present land-use circumstance and reveal the low and high carbon stocks.’

Another possible user of this system is the international food market that sells items including commodities linked to deforestation such as palm oil, cocoa, meat and dairy. In reaction to their contribution, and social pressure, some of these big companies have devoted to zero-deforestation in their supply chain.

‘When someone (a business) is declaring land as zero deforestation, or that palm plantations fit into no logging, they need to show it,’ stated Dr Häusler. ‘And a substantial result (from the project) is we can now show that.’

Dr Häusler states the system will help civil society and NGOs who desire to make sure industry or governments are behaving themselves in addition to permit the different groups to make ecologically sound decisions when selecting land for different purposes.

‘We can reveal everybody– the federal government, NGO stakeholders, however also the market– how to better select the locations they wish to utilize.’

The research in this article was moneyed by the EU. If you liked this article, please consider sharing it on social networks.


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