Satellite ecosystem protection project developed by Leicester researchers presented to Kenyan President

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An award-winning satellite project developed by researchers at the University of Leicester with support from the National Earth Observation Center was presented as part of President Kenyatta’s visit to London, where he marked the UK partnership Uni-Kenya on Climate Change.

The UK government introduced President Uhuru Kenyatta to the Forest Alert system, which is currently being rolled out across Kenya to protect the country’s threatened ecosystems, during a meeting with COP26 President-designate Alok Sharma, during a special event at Kew Gardens Tuesday, July 27.

Developed by Professor Heiko Balzter, National Center for Earth Observation and Director of the Landscape and Climate Research Center (CLCR) at the University of Leicester, and geology and environment researchers Dr Ciaran Robb and Dr Pedro Rodriguez-Veiga, Forest Alert is a system that sends rapid deforestation alerts to a mobile app and enables communication with thousands of app users in the field via a central dashboard. This enables effective protection of forest assets against illegal logging.

The system provides near real-time deforestation alerts – and an unprecedented 10-meter spatial resolution enables detection of small-scale forest degradation and selective logging of large, isolated trees in tropical rainforests.

Professor Balzter said: “At the Landscape and Climate Research Center at the University of Leicester, we have developed a near real-time forest cover change early warning system with the Kenya Forest Service. It integrates cloud computing, mobile technology and community participation to provide a rapid response forest monitoring system for Kenya.

“Near real-time deforestation alerts are sent every time a new satellite image is acquired, up to every five days from Sentinel-2 A and B satellites, within 24 hours of imagery. They are downloaded, processed and automatically transformed into usable forest information.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change includes an international initiative on “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation” (REDD +) whose objective includes the protection of carbon stocks and biodiversity. in threatened ecosystems around the world. This way the carbon stays in the forest and is not released into the air, where it could lead to further global warming.

One of the main constraints for the successful implementation of REDD + that has been identified by policymakers, investors, financiers and scientists is the need for robust and robust measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) systems. Goals.

Mr Jamlek Ndambiri of Kenya Forest Service said: “The Forest Alert system has made our rangers more accountable, helped us to manage our rangers more effectively and helped ensure that we stop the destruction of forests almost on time. where it happens.

The University of Leicester is internationally recognized for its research in space and Earth observation. Satellite technology has been recognized as the most convenient way to regularly monitor the world’s forests in a timely manner.

Professor Balzter added: “The powerful integration of satellite imagery with mobile phone applications and big data analysis is a radical change in the ability of organizations to respond effectively to loss of forest land and a breakthrough in combating the loss of forest land. against deforestation.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qG4-nGSJfBw

“The system was designed with the needs of user organizations at the forefront of our thinking. The Kenya Forest Service and forest stakeholder organizations there have helped define what the service should deliver.

“We are also grateful to our industrial partner Ukall Ltd in Nairobi with whom we have resolved the integration of satellite information with a powerful application-based communication system.”

The work was supported by the project “REDD + Monitoring Services with Satellite Earth Observation – Community Forest Monitoring Pilot” at CLCR, funded by NERC, and Forests2020, funded by the Agency’s international partnership program. British space.

In order to continue its work alongside NCEO and other industry partners, CLCR is relocating to Space Park Leicester, a recently opened £ 100million research, innovation and education center. in April.


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