How NASA Satellites Track Global Forest Inventory Ahead of COP28

Decision makers now have a total picture of carbon stock across the world's forests at their fingertips

Thu 30 Nov 23


NASA-powered satellites are now working with tech giant Amazon to develop tools that measure the total carbon inventory for every country’s forests and non-forest areas. Part of the NASA Goddard AI Center of Excellence, scientists are now using technology to act as an intergalactic watch over global forest stocks.

As a result, decision-makers now have access to near real-time data readily available on their smartphones to monitor deforestation, degradation, and changes in land use.

Yesterday, US-based CTrees launched “JMRV”, a free tool that uses images from global satellites (like NASA) allowing users to “track forest carbon anywhere on the planet” by providing “accurate information on demand with the only global forest carbon and activity data platform.”

Using commercial, high-resolution satellite images and artificial intelligence, a team of NASA-funded scientists mapped almost 10 billion individual trees in Africa’s drylands to assess the amount of carbon stored outside major forests. CTrees uses this data to populate its JMRV tool—footage courtesy of @NASA.

Using 2022 data, it reported that deforestation across the tropics remained too high “at more than 4.5 gigatons of CO2e, an increase of 5% on last year.”

Nonetheless, Indonesia has seen significant improvements in deforestation and degradation, down by 56% and 87%, following the introduction of National Low Carbon Development and One Map policies in 2016.

Brazil has also seen a 45% reduction in deforestation, which has also driven improvements in deforestation across Latin America, with the Congo Basin also experiencing lower emissions from deforestation and degradation.

In October, CTrees launched its Land Use Change Alerts (LUCA) technology, the world’s first global radar-based forest disturbance alert system – footage courtesy of CTrees.

It comes as global leaders meet at COP28 to discuss the first-ever Global Stocktake, an international evaluation of the Paris Agreement goals.

According to Dr Sassan Saatchi, Co-founder and CEO of CTrees, “this tool aids governments and communities who need to understand the health and carbon sequestration potential of their forests to ensure their policies and practices are meeting the needs of the world.”

Dr Saatchi, a senior scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, leads a team of scientists and data engineers from the US, Brazil, Denmark and France, involving some of the world’s leading universities and space agencies.

He said the tool can guide negotiators to understand current stock levels and, more importantly, “take action to prevent long-term carbon losses and enhance carbon stocks through improved management toward quantifiable climate mitigation targets.”

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Yesterday, CTrees was named the winner of the 2023 Amazon Web Services (AWS) I With support from the grant program, CTrees will work with Amazon’s cloud computing arm to integrate advanced satellite data into our carbon platform. (Photo Credit: CTrees LinkedIn).

Dr Thelma King, the Vice Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for the Sixth Cycle, said, “reducing deforestation and restoring ecosystems are relevant and cost-effective land-based activities that contribute to climate change mitigation and biodiversity.”

The IPCC is the UN authority on climate change, and according to Dr King, “too few countries have the accurate data they need to design policies, target their investments, and verify their progress. This data levels the playing field for all countries to have access to cutting-edge data resources to support their efforts to implement natural climate options.”

According to CTrees, the new tool allows countries to measure and verify concrete, quantifiable goals on forest protection and nature-based solutions. 

Its use of machine learning and sophisticated satellite imaging provides a more accurate and frequently available alternative to what forestry ministries currently can do alone when tracking carbon.


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    Wood Central is Australia’s first and only dedicated platform covering wood-based media across all digital platforms. Our vision is to develop an integrated platform for media, events, education, and products that connect, inform, and inspire the people and organisations who work in and promote forestry, timber, and fibre.


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