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JAXA satellite to monitor illegal logging in 3 continents

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) are set to begin monitoring rampant illegal logging in tropical rain forests near the equator, using the advanced land observation satellite Daichi-2.

The two agencies will start the project from this autumn, and release the data on their websites for developing countries that are struggling to deal with illegal logging.

The predecessor satellite, Daichi, has achieved remarkable results in monitoring illegal logging in the Amazon. Daichi-2 will play a role in protecting tropical rain forests all over the world, widening the observation areas.

Daichi-2 is a satellite with onboard radar that can also capture images of the areas at night and without regard to weather conditions. The satellite, which was launched in 2014, has so far been used mainly for observing land deformation and floods caused by disasters.

It is difficult to monitor illegal logging in vast rain forests from the ground. But as the Daichi-2 radar can track vegetation changes on the ground, it has been adopted for monitoring illegal logging.

Data can be captured at a resolution of about 50 meters by 50 meters, and the monitoring area extends across 16.6 million square kilometers of tropical rain forests in Africa, Southeast Asia, South America and other areas. The two agencies will create maps showing newly deforested areas, and release the data on the websites free of charge every six weeks.

The agencies will also train 500 people overseas, over a period of five years, who can analyze the data, and hold an international conference with relevant countries. The project will cost ¥500 million in total over the five-year period.

The satellite Daichi has succeeded in detecting 140 cases of illegal logging annually in Brazil, in monitoring conducted from 2009 to 2011 at the request of the Brazilian government.