Forests are crucial for the world’s climate, and the livelihood of over 1.6 billion peoples – discover the solutions at ChangeNOW that are leveraging their potential
Forests are our friends. Each year they absorb roughly 2.6 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide – one-third of the CO2 released from burning fossil fuels. They are also invaluable for preserving biodiversity, being home to 80 per cent of all terrestrial animals.
Ithas become clear that, in order to meet net-zero climate targets, we will need to take carbon out of the atmosphere in addition to limiting further emissions of greenhouse gases. And this is where forests can play a starring role. By improving our management of existing forests, re-growing old ones, and planting trees on de-graded land, we can remove CO2 from the air and lock it away for the long term.
But to maximise the effectiveness of such ‘nature-based solutions’, we need investment, data, and effective monitoring. And this is where the high-tech can meet the au naturel. Many innovators are working to bring the benefits of digital technology into the forest, and some of the most exciting are on display at ChangeNOW.
It is widely known that forests can store carbon. But according to Swiss venture studio Brainforest, further development is needed if the full benefits of forests are to be released. And the studio’s solution is to apply technology and data to make the most of the carbon capturing potential of reforestation and afforestation projects.
For example, Brainforest’s first venture is Xilva, which is focusing on developing a global digital marketplace for forests. The platform will serve as a ‘one-stop hub’ that facilitates the entire forest investment process. Xilva will make it easier to assess potential investments by providing information on a wide range of factors such as biodiversity, social impact, clean water, and timber harvesting rather than narrowly focusing on a forest’s ability to absorb carbon. Read more.
At COP26, the Brazilian government announced targets for ending deforestation – a particularly important issue in a country that is home to nearly two-thirds of the Amazon rainforest. Against this backdrop, it is more important than ever for owners of forest assets to make sustainable decisions based on data.
Sao Paulo-based Treevia is a technology platform that uses machine learning to monitor multiple variables in forest environments. Data is collected through extremely precise internet of things (IoT) sensors embedded within the forest environment. By providing accurate, automated, and structured data, Treevia hopes to empower researchers and forest-based companies to take meaningful actions that improve both productivity and sustainability. Read more.
Tree planting is wildly popular. According to a 2020 Pew research survey, 90 per cent of Americans favour planting a trillion trees around the world to absorb carbon emissions. But what is the best way to involve people in tree planting? And how can we encourage people to invest in tree planting projects – both emotionally and financially?
French startup Ecotree has developed a unique model to encourage greater engagement with sustainable forestry. The company owns the land at its project sites but, in an inventive twist, project supporters own the trees. Those wishing to invest, can select a tree from the company’s ‘tree shop’. Their initial investment goes towards both sourcing and planting the tree sapling, and running the forest in a sustainable way. The trees are sustainably harvested at the end of their life with the proceeds from the sale of the timber going to the investor, while all of the company’s profits are re-invested in the forest. Read more.
We know that forests store carbon in general, but what about specific trees? Forests are complex ecosystems and many factors affect their carbon capturing abilities. And it’s only by acquiring detailed information at the level of individual trees, that foresters can truly understand how much carbon their forests absorb.
This is where France’s Kanop comes in. By combining satellite imagery and radar measurements with artificial intelligence algorithms, the startup can build a true ‘digital twin’ of a forest – right down to the level of an individual tree. This allows the forest’s managers to accurately monitor, report, and certify its climate services. Read more.
Want to discover how innovation will change the world in 2022? Read our special report produced in collaboration with ChangeNOW.
Springwise is a proud partner of ChangeNOW. As the world’s largest event for the planet, the three-day international summit brings together entrepreneurs, business leaders, and policymakers to accelerate change.
Words: Matthew Hempstead
18th May 2022