EO-EnForCe Earth Observation to Enhance Forest Certification
A project funded by FFG ASAP 17
Project runtime: 01.09.2021 – 31.10.2023
Sustainable management of forests is a key concern of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Certification of wood products aims to promote sustainable and ecological forest management. Around 10% of the global forest area is currently certified by the two major organizations FSC and PEFC. Unfortunately, illegally harvested wood often ends up on the market as certified wood. Indeed, certifications are based primarily on a document-based review of the forest management plan and process chains. On-site reviews and ecological assessments of logging operations occur only sporadically for logistical and financial reasons. As a result, assessment systems are prone to error and fraud. In the EO-EnForCe project, we aim to develop a more efficient satellite-based monitoring system and fuse it with an innovative GPS-based tracking system for logs.
The goal of the project is to develop a web-based prototype for a forest monitoring system that is able to track on-demand and globally the legal and illegal logging within and around certified forest areas. The system is based on the Copernicus missions Sentinel-1 and -2, using pre-processed data (Analysis Ready Data Sets) from Sentinel Hub and analyzing them with novel stochastic time series models and classification methods developed by Joanneum Research. In addition, we test a novel tracking system for roundwood (Beetle ForTech), which securely and traceably stores the GPS position of a tree before felling. The EO and GPS tracking components are merge in an integrative module. The prototype products will support users (certification bodies, timber trade, etc.) in tracking timber and assessing the ecological impact of forest harvests at the point of origin. Such a combined on-demand system provides innovative, cost-effective and reliable verification capabilities for sustainable timber certification.
The services and products developed in EO-EnForCe have great relevance and can improve sustainable forest management as called for in SDG 13 "Climate Change" and SDG 15 "Life on Land". Certification bodies can thus better verify reported logging and detect illegal, unreported harvests. This is especially true for remote forest regions that cannot be audited on site for logistical reasons. Forest owners can verify that logging has actually occurred only in the designated areas. This issue will become more important with recent EU legislative proposals to tackle EU-driven global deforestation by imposing due diligence obligations on operators importing specific commodities, namely cattle, cocoa, coffee, palm oil, soya and wood to the EU. The potential use cases are diverse and offer a great marketing potential. We present the scientific results at conferences and in scientific journals.