UK Satellite Company to Combat Deforestation to Meet REDD+ Goals

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DMCii logo. Image Source: DMCii.

The Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation program (REDD+) is an international partnership which seeks to prevent deforestation and forest degradation. This mission is aided by a multi-disciplinary consortium, called inFORm, which now includes the United Kingdom’s Disaster Monitoring Constellation International Imaging (DMCii) company.

The consortium takes part in aiding the U.K. to work with the worldwide REDD+ partnership, which attempts to provide a financial incentive for developing countries to store carbon in forests to ultimately prevent forest degradation and deforestation. Without a financial incentive, developing countries rely on cutting down forests for timber and other products as a source of income. Trees, however, remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it. When felled for timber or cut using the ‰ÛÏslash-and-burn‰Û method, the carbon is released back into the atmosphere. By encouraging countries to store carbon, the REDD+ mission seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat global warming.

REDD+ also works with local indigenous forest communities to promote respect and a cultural tolerance of their lands. Stakeholders include everyone from farmers to national governments, who work together to meet the REDD+’s goals. Although REDD+’s focus is specifically on developing countries, the mission is still encouraging the Annex I countries of the post-Kyoto regime to continue reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. The Kyoto Protocol, a global effort by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), will have its first commitment period expire at the end of this year. Therefore, the REDD+ mission is increasingly important as countries have the potential to discontinue their commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, the DMCii’s consortium targets the European Union’s Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade action plan (FLEGT), which seeks to implement only legally harvested timber imports to the EU.

Satellite image of Bahia, Brazil.UK-DMC-2 image copyright (c) '2012' DMCii.

Bahia, Brazil. UK-DMC-2 image copyright (c) ‘2012’ DMCii.

According to REDD+, ‰ÛÏwithout a solution to deforestation, there won’t be a solution to climate change.‰Û Deforestation and forest degradation makes up 20 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, taking second place after energy sector emissions. Tropical forests hold about 50 percent of life on Earth, help produce rainfall and cool the planet, and provide a means of living for 1.4 billion people. To cut deforestation in half by 2020, the REDD+ mission plans to spend $38 billion per year.

Many countries are already preparing for REDD+ voluntarily through pilot programs, and are moving ahead with the mission. Industrialized countries will pay the developing countries, which until then can only make money by cutting down the forests to make products such as timber, soy, and beef. Current statistics from a REDD+ informational video show that a forest the size of a football field is destroyed every four seconds. Satellite systems, notably through DMCii and its partners, will be key players in monitoring whether the REDD+ mission is being met and if deforestation reductions are maintained.

The DMCii is a satellite imaging company that provides products and services to different stakeholders worldwide, aiding the public and private sector. DMCii recently acquired a place on the Forest Governance Markets and Climate (FGMC) Framework Agreement due to its leadership in the inFORm consortium. DMCii products and services are used in forestry, agriculture, and environmental mapping. In 2005, the Brazilian Space Agency (INPE) began using DMCii’s satellite systems to observe illegal logging activities and its harmful effects in the Amazon Basin.

 Satellite imagery of a fire in the Niger Delta, Bayelsa, Nigeria. UK-DMC-2 image copyright (c) '2012' DMCii.

Fire in the Niger Delta, Bayelsa, Nigeria. UK-DMC-2 image copyright (c) ‘2012’ DMCii.

The DMCii’s involvement with FGMC allows it to make bids on projects that observe deforestation activities around the world, according to a BCM Publications article. The company’s satellite system will continue to serve the framework by providing leaders with imagery of degradation to aid in forest governing. In a BCM Publications article, DMCii Forestry Director Professor Jim Lynch said, ‰ÛÏWe are delighted to have been accepted to the FGMC ‰ÛÒ helping reduce poverty in developing countries while combating climate change is the reason we formed our consortium. We look forward to addressing the many challenges of such rewarding and innovative projects.‰Û

DMCii of the U.K. operates its own imaging satellites and coordinates a larger set of DMC satellite-owning nations: Algeria, China, Nigeria, Turkey, and Spain. The DMCii also works with the U.K. Space Agency to provide free satellite imagery to countries in times of disaster, including tsunamis, fires, floods, and hurricanes. DMCii is a subsidiary of Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL), a large contributor of small satellite technology and founder of the international DMC partnership.