University of Edinburgh researchers are to provide expertise in a prominent international project to protect the world’s tropical forests using satellite data.
The Forests 2020 project, worth more than £14 million in total, is funded by the UK Space Agency's International Partnership Programme.
Forests 2020 is led by Edinburgh-based sustainability software and data company Ecometrica, who will collaborate with experts from the Universities of Edinburgh and Leicester, as well as University of Edinburgh spin-out company Carbomap, a specialist in LiDAR forest mapping.
The consortium will also involve partners in Brazil, Colombia, Ghana, Indonesia, Kenya and Mexico. Earth Observation laboratories will be set up in these regions to assess threats to 300 million hectares of tropical rainforests and direct conservation resources.
This will be achieved by improving the capacity of local partners and stakeholders to implement effective forest and ecosystem monitoring services. The result will help safeguard environments which would most likely be lost without intervention.
The project is due to complete in March 2020.
Stuart Simmons, Business Development Executive in the University’s School of GeoSciences, said;
“This project reflects the close academic-industry relationship that has been fostered between University’s School of GeoSciences and Ecometrica. It directly builds upon our collaboration to roll out access to Ecometrica’s EOLabs platform at the University and also the licensing of Sentinel-1 satellite data processing technology developed at the University with support from the UK Natural Environment Research Council.”
According to Ian Sharp, Head of Marketing & Engagement at Edinburgh Research & Innovation (ERI), the University’s commercialisation and industry engagement arm;
“This is a great result for the University and demonstrates the value of Edinburgh’s world-leading expertise in remote sensing to industry partners, and also in delivering huge environmental benefits. It is particularly pleasing that the project is led by colleagues at Ecometrica – the company’s longstanding relationship with ERI and the University stretches back to 2008 when the newly founded venture was supported via ERI’s Edinburgh Pre-Incubator Scheme.”
Dr Richard Tipper, executive chairman of Ecometrica, said:
"We all know how important tropical rainforests are to the survival of the global ecosystem, but most people are only just waking up to the fact that we need to use technology to make sure conservation efforts are effective and properly directed. The Earth Observation platforms will ensure threats such as fires and illegal logging are detected sooner, and make the response on the ground faster and more cost effective."