Skip to content

DMCii launches global forest monitoring service for REDD+

At the 18th Commonwealth Forestry Conference in Edinburgh, a new service specifically tailored to help in the fight to conserve global forests was launched. DMCii’s Global Forest Monitoring service uses satellite imagery to produce easily-understood maps of forest cover change. Uniquely, the service’s wide-area forest surveys can be updated annually, monthly – or more often still for areas judged most at risk – delivering the timely data necessary for operational management.

The world’s forests form a significant stock of carbon, which is being released as CO2 as forests are impacted by human intervention. The tropical rainforests hold 80% of forest carbon and the destruction of these is responsible for around 20% of anthropogenic carbon emissions. Among the subjects under discussion during the Conference is an UN-led initiative called REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation), which aims to place a value on intact forests by paying governments to prevent their destruction.

However REDD+ requires reliable and timely information on the state of the forests. Satellite imagery is the only effective way of mapping such vast areas on a regular basis, but it can still take a long while for individual satellites to build up a complete regional picture, especially as tropical rainforests are often covered by clouds. In the past, forest maps could only be updated every five to 10 years, leaving them of limited practical use.

DMCii’s Global Forest Monitoring service is based around a constellation of six satellites known as the Disaster Monitoring Constellation which work together to provide rapid mapping services. Independently owned but collectively coordinated, the satellites have a joint daily repeat imaging capability for anywhere in the world, meaning that even cloudy areas can be imaged frequently enough to achieve full coverage.

Information derived from the satellites is used to provide maps of forest/non-forest regions, clear cut areas, logging roads and forest degradation. The service is also intended as a means of training and building capacity in the use and processing of satellite data, deriving information maps from data and interpretation of forest maps.

“Our new Global Forest Monitoring service is derived from our work partnering with governments and institutions on a number of existing forest initiatives,” said Paul Stephens, DMCii Sales and Marketing Director. “This experience has taught us that high-frequency satellite surveys for operational forest monitoring are required for adequate forest management. With survey gaps of more than six months, forest degradation becomes difficult to detect, and authorities need up-to-date information to target ground surveys. The need for regular information is clearly there – countries without operational forest monitoring programmes will be refused entry to the REDD+ process.”

Deforestation in the Amazon Basin. The Red areas indicate vegetation, and lighter areas show where forest has been systematically cleared. Image from UK-DMC ©SSTL

Forest change map produced from satellite images. The Yellow, Orange and Red areas in the centre image show year-on-year forest loss due to deforestation and degradation

About DMC International Imaging Ltd

DMC International Imaging Ltd (DMCii) is a UK based supplier of remote sensing data products and services for international Earth Observation (EO) markets. DMCii supplies programmed and archived optical satellite imagery provided by the multi-satellite Disaster Monitoring Constellation. DMCii’s data is now used in a wide variety of commercial and government applications including agriculture, forestry and environmental mapping.

In partnership with the British National Space Centre (BNSC) and the other Disaster Monitoring Constellation member nations (Algeria, China, Nigeria, Turkey and Spain), DMCii works with the International Charter: ‘Space and Major Disasters’ to provide free satellite imagery for humanitarian use in the event of major international disasters such as tsunami, hurricanes, fires and flooding.

DMCii was formed in October 2004 and is a subsidiary of Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL), the world leader in small satellite technology. SSTL designed and built the Disaster Monitoring Constellation with the support of the BNSC and in conjunction with the Disaster Monitoring Constellation member nations Algeria, China, Nigeria, Turkey and Spain.

Paul Stephens
Sales & Marketing Director, DMC International Imaging Ltd.
Read More DMCii