Opinion: How GPS mapping and satellite technology help reduce deforestation

Jill Kolling, VP Global Sustainability, Cargill.

Having visibility into our supply chain and work on the ground is critical. That’s why Cargill is using satellite images to see what’s happening in landscapes around the areas from where it sources its cocoa.

These images help our team identify places where forests and other sensitive ecosystems have been degraded or where intact forests remain in proximity to cocoa farms. Pinpointing these locations is essential — it’s where Cargill is taking action on the ground to prevent further deforestation and restore cocoa production landscapes.

Identifying risk and working with farmers to prevent future forest loss is one way Cargill is making progress toward its commitment to end deforestation in its supply chains. Our team is accelerating our efforts to achieve that commitment, focusing on our cocoa, palm and soy supply chains and identifying areas with the greatest risk of deforestation.

As International Day of Forests on March 21 brings attention to our collective efforts, it also highlights how far we all still need to go to protect at-risk forests and native vegetation. We know we must hasten the pace of change. Technology is key to expediting our progress.

Mapping farm locations

The first step is knowing where to look. The solution used by Cargill starts with GPS devices to collect digital information about farm boundaries and create polygon maps of the farms from which we source cocoa. These maps help us understand each farm’s size and perimeter. So far, we have mapped more than 153,000 farms in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, representing over 951,000 acres of cocoa farmland.

Applying innovative technology

Then, we use satellite technology to determine where forests remain and where forest loss has taken place. We do this by using geo information systems (GIS) software tools, as well as geospatial data and analytical methods available in the World Resources Institute’s (WRI) Global Forest Watch Pro platform. By overlaying and combining the farm maps we’ve collected with the geospatial satellite data, our teams can see changes in tree cover that have occurred on our cocoa suppliers’ farms as well as in nearby forests and protected areas.

See more here.

Source: GreenBiz