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DMCii satellite imagery helps halt deforestation in Argentina

(December 2012) SSTL’s remote sensing arm, DMCii, was recently involved in a project to monitor and help halt deforestation in the El Impenetrable forest in Argentina.

DMCii provided satellite imagery to be used within the Earthwatchers programme; crowdsourcing software that engages students in hands on activity to tackle deforestation globally, meaning that huge quantities of data can be analysed in a short time.

Under the Earthwatchers programme, each student is given a patch of land to monitor using regularly updated satellite imagery of the area (in this case, provided by DMCii). If the student notices a change in the area from previous images, they can create an alert. Other users can then confirm this change and the areas with the most confirmations will be checked by conservationists on the ground. In the image below you can clearly see the areas of forest cleared for soya fields between June and July 2012.

DMCii provided high-frequency 22m images from the UK-DMC2 satellite. High frequency acquisitions are important when monitoring forested areas as high-cloud cover means that it is often difficult to acquire clear images of the ground.

Satellite imagery provides monitoring of hard-to-reach areas and is easily interpreted by all. Greenpeace Argentina used DMCii imagery to provide transparency of the field situation and successfully lobbied the local Chaco government to change the law and halt deforestation in the area.

DMCii has provided imagery for forestry and environmental applications for many years. Brazil’s National Space Agency (INPE) have been using DMCii imagery to quantify deforestation and deter illegal logging of the Amazon since 2005. DMCii has also taken part in programmes such as the European Space Agency’s Global Monitoring for the Environment and Security (GMES) programme to provide imagery of Sub-Saharan Africa and forest monitoring projects in Indonesia.

DMCii recently established a consortium called inForm that brings together satellite imagery with other disciplines to monitor forest governance and deforestation globally, and its effects on local communities.

Follow DMCii on Twitter @DMCiiTweet to hear more about satellite imagery and how it’s helping to track our changing environment.