Detecting Gold Mining Impacts on Insect Biodiversity in a Tropical Mining Frontier with PlanetScope Imagery

The Amazon rainforest is faced with daily forest loss and degradation, harming local biodiverse ecosystems. This study from Conservation International, Boise State University, and the University of Guyana, demonstrates how scientists can monitor the drivers of this deforestation, including gold mining, with PlanetScope imagery. By capturing satellite images of remote locations near the rainforest frontier in Guyana, this research team demonstrated how Planet data can help detect artisanal gold mining. They suggest that this data can then be used to analyze consequential impacts on insect populations. By using an object-based image analysis, the researchers observed with satellite data that regions with high levels of mining had lower recorded levels of insect family richness. “With the advent of global partnerships that provide universal access to PlanetScope imagery for tropical forest monitoring, our approach represents a low-cost and rapid way to assess the biodiversity impacts of gold mining in remote landscapes,” the authors said. 

The full study can be found in Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation.

Image above of forest study site in Guyana. © 2020, Planet Labs PBC. All Rights Reserved.