Satellites for Wilderness Inspection and Forest Threat Tracking
Background & Objectives
Forests are essential to life on Earth. They proForests are essential to life on Earth. They provide habitats for thousands of creatures and combat climate change through carbon sequestration. However, our forests are threatened by insect outbreaks, fires, windthrow and droughts. Notably, insect outbreaks are one of the leading causes of forest loss globally, destroying 85M ha of forest worth €15B annually. At the same time, wildfires destroy 400M ha annually on a global scale, according to the European Space Agency. The wind is also a significant forest disturbance agent in the temperate forests of France, Germany, and most of Europe.
Climate change affects forests, causing insects to breed more frequently. It also provides more dry fuel for global wildfires. The dry conditions increase the length of the fire season and the size of areas affected by the fire. In addition, both the frequency and the severity of large storms causing windthrow can be attributed to climate change. As a result, countless habitats are lost, and CO2 sequestered yearly decreases by over 4850M tons.
Our solution, SWIFTT, will provide a scientifically sound and technically feasible way to help monitor and manage forest risks: windthrow, insect outbreaks, and forest fires. SWIFTT will enable forest managers to adapt to climate change with affordable, simple and effective remote sensing tools backed up by powerful machine learning models. Our solution will offer a monthly health monitoring service using Copernicus satellite imagery to detect and map the various risks to which forests and their managers are exposed. Early threat detection aids timely intervention. SWIFTT will be tested in real conditions by several end-users from the forest industry, which include Fürstliches Forstamt, Groupe Coopération Forestière and the Rigas Mezia. We anticipate monitoring and protecting up to 40M ha of global forests by 2030, saving foresters over €468M in monitoring costs and creating over 50 direct jobs.