New satellite images to allow anyone, anywhere, to monitor tropical deforestation – NICFI
On Wednesday 23 September 2020, Norway's Ministry of Climate and Environment entered into a contract worth up to NOK 400 million (approx. USD 43) with Kongsberg Satellite Services (KSAT) and its partners Airbus and Planet, to provide universal access to high-resolution satellite monitoring of the tropics in order to support efforts to stop the destruction of the world’s rainforests.
«This will revolutionize global forest monitoring. Better insight into what is happening in the rainforests will enhance efforts to protect these priceless ecosystems», says Sveinung Rotevatn, Norway’s Minister of Climate and Environment.
Better information saves rainforests
Satellite images are available that are so detailed that one can see if a single tree has been cut down. However, such images are very expensive, and only a few private stakeholders have access to them. Through Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI), the Government of Norway is now making the images accessible and free for everyone.
The high-resolution satellite images provide an overview of all the tropical forests around the world, and these images will be updated every month. Users can access image archives that include data dating back to 2015. This allows users to see the development that has taken place in the forests over several years.
«Small communities can now be seen and heard in their struggle with companies that steal their rightful territories. The world’s supermarkets can monitor claims made by their suppliers regarding the sustainable production of soy, palm oil and other raw materials», says Rotevatn.
The images will be free of charge. Anyone around the world can detect deforestation occurring in very small areas, whether it be authorities, companies buying raw materials associated with deforestation, investors, journalists, scientists, indigenous organizations or NGOs.
Powerful tool for indigenous people.
Not least, information from satellite images is important for indigenous organizations. The indigenous leader Ianukulá Kaiabi Suiá, from the Associação Terra Indígena do Xingu (ATIX), has high expectations for the new satellite images. He represents the indigenous territory of São Félix do Xingu in Brazil, one of the most vulnerable areas in the Amazon.
«Satellite image is a powerful tool since it is better understood by indigenous communities compared to data sources from numbers. These images will give the communities a better understanding of the problems’ location and dimension, so that their actions can be better planned”, says Ianukulá Kaiabi Suiá.
Colombia’s Minister of the Environment and Sustainable Development, Ricardo José Lozano Picón, points out that Colombia over the last years has developed an advanced monitoring system, but that a bottleneck has been that high-resolution satellite images are very expensive.
«With Norway’s new investment in free available, high resolution satellite imagery, Colombia will continue to get access to frequent and detailed satellite observations. This will improve the monitoring and management of our valuable forests», says Lozano.
«We have already made important progress in providing open and accessible information about where and why deforestation is occurring. This technology is used by journalists, organizations and individuals around the world, and helps save important forests and nature. Now we are taking it one step further. The fight to combat deforestation and forest crime is more important than ever before», says Rotevatn.
Norway pays several tropical forest countries, including Indonesia and Colombia, to reduce emissions caused by deforestation. Better images reduce the uncertainties associated with the estimates.
New partnership brings high-resolution satellite imagery of the tropics to all – MONGABAY
Satellites are powerful tools for monitoring deforestation. Now, a new partnership aims to make high-resolution, satellite imagery of the tropics free and accessible to everyone.
Norway’s Ministry of Climate and Environment announced this week that they have entered into a new contract, forming a partnership with three well-established satellite monitoring technology groups: Kongsberg Satellite Services (KSAT), Planet and Airbus.
The US $43.5 million contract was awarded under Norway’s International Climate and Forests Initiative (NICFI), a program that aims to mitigate climate change by protecting rainforests. The government of Norway has made substantial investments to combat deforestation in the tropics and, for several years, NICFI has supported Global Forest Watch (GFW), a tool used by Mongabay and others to visualize and monitor forest change.
“This new partnership announced by the Norwegian government could be game-changing for tropical forests,” Crystal Davis, director of Global Forest Watch wrote in an email to Mongabay. “The public now has free access to high-resolution satellite imagery that can show the fate of a single tree.”
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