Forests 2020: 1 Year In



Brazilian Cerrado forest

Over the past year Carbomap have been very busy working with our long-time partners Ecometrica on the Forests 2020 project.

Forests 2020, awarded £14.2M by the UK Space Agency last year as part of the International Partnerships Programme (IPP), aims to help maintain and protect over 300 million hectares of tropical forests. This project will help us provide an effective and sustainable forest monitoring system to measure forest change and the critical holes within forest monitoring systems, including shedding light on the risks and drivers of forest loss across the tropics.

Kenyan forests on the outskirts of Nairobi

The project is being undertaken by an international consortium, which has brought together many of the world’s leading experts on forest monitoring, who will work across the tropics to help safeguard tropical forests through the innovative use of remote sensing data. Virtual Earth Observation laboratories will be set up in Brazil, Colombia, Ghana, Indonesia, Kenya, and Mexico, as well as at the University of Leicester, to assess threats to rainforests and help to direct conservation resources.

Carbomap are looking at the role that lidar data can play and some of the new technological developments can feed into the primary streams of satellite data that are being used through the project.

Acahual (fallow land) in Chiapas, Mexico

Over the past year we have had the pleasure of visiting a number of the participating countries to learn about their particular focuses and challenges that they face with their forest monitoring activities. We visited the Cerrado in Brazil, the largest tropical savanna ecosystem in the world, which covers more area in Brazil than the Amazon Rainforest, yet in comparison we know much less about it. In Kenya we met with the Kenya Forest Service to learn about how they plan to tackle challenges associated with monitoring mangrove forests, which are notorious for being covered in cloud, making clear satellite images difficult to obtain. We visited a number of mountainous forest regions in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas, to learn how NGOs and government organisations are working with local communities who live in the forests to help them preserve their homes for the generations to come. In Ghana we came face to face with the realities of illegal cocoa plantations that are massively impacting on the natural forest ecosystems, and the difficulties faced in identifying them.

A cocoa pod in Ghana

On a visit to Colombia we met with IDEAM in Bogotá, to learn about their plans for using remote sensing to improve the way they monitor forests across the varied ecosystems they have and the different challenges in each.  We were also lucky to have a visit from the project partners in Indonesia to hear how they want to make use of a whole range of remote sensing methodologies to improve their national estimates of forest carbon.

Andean cloud forests above Bogotá, Colombia

It has been no surprise to learn that there is not a “one size fits all” solution, and so by working with the in-country experts we are able to help them to develop the right type of capacity for monitoring their forest ecosystems. With just over two years to go theres a lot of work to be done, but its promising to see the progress we’ve all made so far.

To find out more about the project, you can visit the Forests 2020 website here. If you want to learn more about Carbomap’s role in the project, or if you think our work could help you, then please send us an email to and one of our team will get back to you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *