Our partnership with S2GM is helping tackle deforestation and climate change. Read about what the S2GM service is, and what it can do.
- LuxCarta provides technical support for the Sentinel-2 Global Mosaic (S2GM) service which is developed, operated and maintained by ACRI-ST
- S2GM is an Earth observation service that helps track deforestation
- Learn about the partnership and what S2GM offers
- Find out how this partnership helps to tackle climate change
Addressing climate change is without a doubt the greatest challenge facing humanity. And, one of the most useful natural tools we have to do this are the planet’s forests. The world’s trees absorb billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere every year, meaning that the protection (and indeed, expansion) of forests will play a vital role in tackling climate change.
However, many of the planet’s forests are currently under threat. According to the United Nations, around 420 million hectares of forest were destroyed between 1990 and 2020. What is more, deforestation is believed to contribute between 12% and 20% of greenhouse gas emissions. If humanity is to prevent the worst impacts of climate change, then protecting our forests is clearly going to play a vital role.
And this is where our partnership with the S2GM service comes in. At LuxCarta, we have been working with S2GM since 2022 to support them with Earth observation and monitoring the planet’s forests (as part of a consortium with AdwaisEO and AcrI-ST). How does this partnership help to address deforestation and climate change?
What is S2GM?
S2GM creates composite mosaics of the planet’s surface using the best available images from the Sentinel 2 satellite. Users can view the mosaic to observe changes to vegetation and the water cycle. As of June 2023, the mosaics stretch back to June 2021, but will soon be available as far back as 2017. The mosaics can be easily compared and searched thanks to the use of filters and metadata. This facilitates the monitoring of forest cover change over time.
LuxCarta has worked with S2GM since 2022 to maintain the mosaic software, provide the cloud removal software, and offer general technical support.
Why does deforestation happen?
Deforestation happens for many reasons, but some of the principle causes include:
- Expansion of land available for agriculture
- Logging for timber (legal and illegal)
- Clearing forest for fuel
- Infrastructure expansion
- Fires (naturally occurring and man-made)
- Climate change (changing rainfall patterns)
How S2GM helps tackle deforestation
The S2GM service can be used in a variety of ways to monitor forest cover and changes over time. This information helps to address climate change in a variety of ways.
The most obvious use of the S2GM service is to monitor rates of deforestation. The service covers the entire planet and provides 10-meter resolution and cloudless mosaics over time. The technology allows users to clearly identify new areas where deforestation has occurred, including very small changes.
This information can be useful for all kinds of stakeholders, including:
- Government agencies
- Civil society groups and NGOs
- Indigenous communities
- Academic researchers
- The United Nations and other international organizations
Forest expansion monitoring
The S2GM service can also monitor natural forest expansion and afforestation (the active creation of forests). Capturing imagery of forest expansion can demonstrate the benefits of a new nature reserve, provide evidence of how an ecosystem is adapting, or allow a government to show that it is increasing forest cover with reliable evidence.
Carbon credit schemes
To tackle climate change, a variety of carbon credit schemes have been introduced whereby national governments, private companies, and even individuals pay to protect or expand an area of forest. This means that local communities have an incentive to maintain the forest, rather than exploit it.
The S2GM service allows carbon credit scheme providers to monitor forests, and verify that they are in fact being protected. This can also help prevent fraud where people claim the forest is being protected to receive carbon credit finance, when in fact they are clearing it.
Similarly, the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) is a UN framework that provides a mechanism for national governments to receive payments for protecting their forests. S2GM can help provide them with evidence that they are protecting their forests, in order to receive REDD+ payments.
Forest protection agencies, police forces and international investigatory authorities can use data from S2GM to help monitor environmental crimes, illegal logging and carbon credit fraud. Information from the service can help investigators to prove that criminal activity has occurred and potentially support them in prosecuting criminals.
Spotting fires and hazards
The S2GM service can be used by government forestry departments and fire services to identify potential forest fires. By combining the most recent satellite image composites with other information, they can identify fires before they break out or spread.
General land use change research
The S2GM service provides plenty more data and information for a wide variety of researchers who wish to monitor land use change for different purposes. Whether it is trying to learn about a country’s food security based on crop coverage, studying the expansion or shrinkage of different types of woodland and forest, or for many kinds of ecological survey, the data provided by S2GM can be extremely helpful.
Addressing the greatest challenge of our time
Tackling climate change and mitigating its impacts requires a complex and multifaceted approach – there is no single solution to address this challenge. However, we strongly believe that by providing stakeholders with a method to track deforestation and to provide evidence of change, S2GM and LuxCarta can help contribute to the wider goal of tackling climate change.
With better evidence of both deforestation and protection efforts, we can help monitor and protect our forests and improve them for the benefit of future generations.Visit S2GM’s website to explore the technology. Or contact us to find out how we are supporting the project in more detail.