Stand Research Group launches Forest Eye satellite tool to track old-growth logging
July 20, 2023
Stand.earth Research Group (SRG) has launched Forest Eye, an innovative new tool – the first of its kind in British Columbia’s forestry history – to track logging in the last remaining majestic old growth forests in B.C.
A bespoke data mapping tool, Forest Eye combines remote sensing, satellite imagery, and GIS mapping in an alert system to monitor old growth logging and inform the public so they can hold elected officials accountable and organize around protecting what is left.
“It is intended and designed to be disruptive, transparent, and support public mobilization and local community organizing around stopping old-growth logging, and holding the B.C. government to account,” says Angeline Robertson, Senior Researcher with SRG.
Forest Eye’s alerts are based on the detection of unseasonal vegetation drops using the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) in an innovative system designed by Upstream Tech called Lens. “The work being done by Stand.earth in leveraging remote sensing technology, is a crucial step towards preserving our planet for future generations,” said Carolyn duPont, Chief Operating Officer of Upstream Tech.
Lens allows SRG to identify possible areas of logging in old growth forests that have been mapped by B.C.’s Old Growth Technical Advisory Panel (TAP).
Alerts are screened by SRG staff to confirm if logging has occurred, and to determine the timing of road-building and logging. Researchers employ daily and monthly satellite imagery accessed via Planet Explorer to conduct the screening. Maps created by SRG in ArcGIS based on spatial data from the B.C. government are used to confirm the company operating the logging, the type of forest logged, and the geodetically calculated area of forest loss. Confirmed alerts are added via API from Lens to a database built by SRG, using bespoke coding to transform and parse data for further analysis. Stand campaign staff uses the database to post alerts to social media platforms.
The public can also track old-growth logging by the forest industry on Stand’s website. This resource includes a map of the deforestation alerts, a searchable archive of the alerts, and satellite imagery of the forest clearances.
SRG began tracking logging using Forest Eye in March 2023. Already more than 3000 hectares of old-growth forest, the majority of which are candidate deferrals, have been identified as logged by the system, with no sign that the destruction is slowing. SRG has processed hundreds of alerts since March and there are hundreds more still being screened. Forest Eye can interrupt that trend by calling the government and the industry to account and allowing the public access to the devastation in old growth forests like never before.
ABOUT STAND.EARTH RESEARCH GROUP:
SRG is the research arm of international environmental advocacy organization Stand.earth. It supports the global environmental community with cutting-edge investigative research to trace the sources of raw materials and energy used to drive the world economy.
SRG has been the driving force behind two landmark reports – Nowhere To Hide and Linked Fates – which detailed the role of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, supply chain implications in the high fashion and leather industries, and the outsize role of the state of California in fossil fuel extraction in the Amazon. SRG also authored the report Tall Talk in 2022, which outlined the risk that forest companies pose to the last remaining old growth forests in B.C.
Earlier this month, SRG was named as a winner of the 2023 Keeling Curve Prize in acknowledgment of its research driving the campaign to halt expansion of oil and gas drilling in the Amazon by advocating for the adoption of Amazon Exclusion Policies by major global banks.