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Satellites REDD-y to help fight deforestation

It’s universally accepted that the world’s forests need protecting to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and slow climate change. But if we are to bring about the dramatic reduction of deforestation and illegal logging, we need to get to the root of the problem and introduce a fair and sustainable programme of forest protection. This means replacing the income derived from the forests by the local community. REDD, the scheme launched by the UN in 2008, aims to do just that by offering developing countries financial incentives to fight deforestation. This money is then used to invest in sustainable development and schemes that help local communities. To implement REDD+, stakeholders need an accurate way of measuring forests and giving them a financial value. DMCii, SSTL’s independent remote sensing arm, has the solution for this: satellite imagery. DMCii’s Director of Forestry, Professor Jim Lynch, recently wrote an article on why using satellite data is the only way of measuring forests quickly, precisely and accurately. The wide area view of satellites enables a highly accurate inventory of trees to be made; where they are and how many there are. This information can then be processed to calculate carbon stocks and how they change over time (known as carbon flux), and also aid organised action on the ground such as surveying and enforcement.
The Amazon Burn Scar. UK-DMC2 Image (C) DMCii, 2010. All rights reserved.
The Amazon Burn Scar. UK-DMC2 Image (C) DMCii, 2010. All rights reserved.
Satellite imagery is transparent and can typically be understood by everyone from regional politicians to village headmen. Presenting clear and accurate information about their national resources gives these people the ability to make informed decisions about the future of these resources. DMCii’s high resolution imagery and a high revisit capability make it well suited to the measuring of forests. DMCii’s use of the Disaster Monitoring Constellation satellites means that it can provide daily revisits to those places most at risk because they are not constrained by the fixed orbit of a single satellite, which might take weeks or months to return to a given target. Brazil’s space agency the National Institute for Space Research (known by its Portuguese initials as INPE) has used DMCii imagery since 2005 to monitor deforestation and is currently using a direct downlink from the UK-DMC2 satellite for fortnightly imagery of the Amazon rainforest to detect illegal logging for its ground breaking DETER programme. Brazil serves as an inspiration for REDD+, having cut its deforestation by half in the last 15 years with the help of satellite data. DMCii also heads up a multi-disciplinary consortium called inFORm that provides a wealth of skills with which to develop sustainable forest management in communities around the world. inFORm recently won a place on the Department for International Development (DfID) Forest Governance Markets and Climate Framework Agreement meaning they can bid for projects to monitor forest governance and deforestation globally.

 

 
 

 

 

11 September 20120 Comments1 Comment

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