Tropical forests are large and complex ecosystems that are a vital part of the solution to addressing the effects of climate change. Fortunately, organizations around the world are using Planet data to help protect these forests, including mission-based company Permian Global. Starting in 2007, Permian Global has worked to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, protect habitats, and support sustainable local economies through large-scale tropical forest protection and restoration projects.
In the forests of Indonesia, Permian Global has worked in collaboration with the Katingan Mentaya Project in order to protect more than 157,000 hectares of tropical forest peatland. The Project used satellite data to map carbon plots, tree planting, and peat rewetting activities by community teams, however, Permian Global had difficulty receiving high temporal resolution datasets from existing satellite providers.
“We quickly realized that due to the presence of clouds and the temporal resolution of the data, it was very hard to get good imagery for the project area and we decided to look for alternative solutions,” said Dr. Sunarto, Permian Global’s Wildlife and Landscape Ecologist.
Then in 2018, Permian Global turned to Planet’s data for a solution. The improved temporal and spatial resolution of PlanetScope and Planet Basemaps were key factors in choosing Planet, according to Dr. Sunarto and his team who started using both radar and Planet data.
“The frequency of the images means we have a much higher chance to get good cloud-free imagery, and the high spatial resolution means we can map very small forest disturbances which is invaluable for the carbon monitoring of the project,” said Dr. Sunarto. “We currently use both the individual PlanetScope images and some Basemaps; we are very excited about the new eight-band data and the improved results we will get with it.”
The objective of their project was to provide businesses with a solution to buy fully verified, high-quality carbon credits and offset emissions through the voluntary carbon market. By protecting carbon-rich rainforest, the Mentaya project represents one of the largest emission reduction forest projects in the world.
This project embraced natural climate solutions (NCS), which a 2017 paper by Griscom et al. found offered up to a third of the cost-effective emissions mitigation required to keep global warming below 2°C, but typically received about 3% of international climate finance. Tropical forests, an important part of NCS, are some of the most biodiverse regions on Earth and must be protected. Carbon credits, particularly those generated through verified forest protection and restoration projects, offer a real-world solution for offsetting global emissions that cannot yet be eliminated through alternative processes or renewable energy. Each verified carbon unit purchased by a company stops the emission of one ton of CO2.
With Planet, Permian Global’s technical team analyzes satellite data to gain a better understanding of carbon mass in a particular forest area, and constructs project baseline assessments that factor in multiple datasets to support carbon credit programs.
“The accuracy and reliability of the imagery we use is paramount. We need to be able to identify and respond to any sign of changes in the overall composition of the forest,” said Dr. Sunarto. “The quality of the data we use enables us to ensure that the forest is always growing and not diminishing.” To learn more about the impact of Planet data on forestry and carbon credits, read our previous blog about Pachama, a carbon credits marketplace supporting forests in North and South America.