43 million hectares were deforested worldwide between 2004 and 2017. With Forest Foresight, we can predict and prevent illegal deforestation.
Preventing illegal deforestation
Illegal deforestation is one of the biggest threats to nature and thus to wildlife habitats. In just 13 years, an area more than 10 times the size of the Netherlands was deforested. Forests are essential for our survival: they provide drinking water, food, medicine and building materials and offer a home to millions of animals and humans. Forests are also an important ally in our fight against climate change.
Together with partners, WWF developed Forest Foresight, an innovative solution which helps us to predict and prevent illegal deforestation in order to protect important forests.
WHAT IS FOREST FORESIGHT?
Current systems only alert when logging has already started and damage to nature has already occurred. Forest Foresight (previously known as Early Warning System) predicts illegal deforestation before it takes place.
This model connects big data - such as satellite imagery - and human activity, such as population densities and road construction in order to detect if deforestation might take place. If a road is built, it can be used as an access road for machines to cut down trees. As soon as such a change is spotted, an alert goes out to relevant people. They can then take appropriate action and prevent the area from being deforested.
The involvement of local stakeholders (such as residents, organizations, companies and government agencies) is an important part of the process. They ultimately become the users of Forest Foresight. Local people in particular often depend on the forest for their food and livelihoods, and they have been protecting their forest land for centuries. Forest Foresight helps communities to better protect their environment, for example by preventing illegal deforestation in their community forest.
Forest Foresight explained
What's the problem?
Forests are the home to three quarters of all life on land. Unfortunately, times are tough for many forest areas. Every minute, 30 soccer fields of forest disappear, and deforestation is therefore the biggest threat to existing forests. The biggest cause of deforestation is making way for agriculture and cattle breeding. In addition, forests are destroyed for the construction of palm oil plantations, the paper industry and mining, for example. All over the world people and animals lose their habitat this way.
Preventing instead of recovering
Preventing deforestation, forest degradation and ecosystem transformation provides the most urgent and immediate climate benefits, along with other positive environmental and social impacts. Primary forests, which are among the densest and most ecologically important on earth, cannot be replanted overnight.
Human rights violations
Deforestation is regularly accompanied by human rights violations worldwide. Indigenous communities are often forcibly evicted from their lands, while 80% of the world's biodiversity is found in indigenous areas.
Protecting public health
Scientists warn that we are going to face pandemics like COVID-19 more often. Wild animals and the diseases they carry are more likely to come into contact with humans due to the shrinking of their habitat. We can prevent this by stopping the destruction of forests and other valuable natural areas.
Results Forest Foresight
The Forest Foresight tool has been successfully tested in three landscapes, in Surinam, Gabon and Kalimantan. This has already resulted in the prevention of deforestation in a number of different landscapes in Kalimantan ad Gabon. Working closely with governments and local communities, the groundwork has now been laid for the ongoing conservation of primary tropical rainforests.
Results Forest Foresight
In Gabon, 34 field visits took place where deforestation was suspected based on data through Forest Foresight. Thanks to a field visit, illegal gold mining in the buffer zone of Minkébé National Park could be stopped and the logging of about 30 hectares of forest was prevented.
In addition, several illegal gold traders were arrested by the park management. Forest Foresight, with its dashboard, has made significant deforestation evident to local stakeholders. With these successes, the government plans to scale up Forest Foresight in Gabon to all national parks, protected areas, RAMSAR sites and mining concessions.
In Central Kalimantan - in collaboration with the University of Palangkaraya - a pilot was conducted with Forest Foresight. Thanks to this system, scarce resources can be used better and more efficiently.
The newly developed dashboard makes it easy to keep track of information from field visits and possible measures and to report to various stakeholders. Managers of various areas see the added value of Forest Foresight. Feedback from initial users is being used to further optimize the model and dashboard.
What do we want to achieve?
WWF's ambition is to use Forest Foresight to reduce illegal deforestation by 30 percent in tropical forests in the so-called ‘deforestation fronts’, areas most at risk for illegal deforestation. We do this by using Forest Foresight to address the underlying drivers of illegal deforestation and by contributing to better management and protection of forests.
After a successful pilot phase over the past two years with proof of positive results, Forest Foresight is now ready for scale up. Together with international partners, investors and local partners, Forest Foresight is planning to engage new landscapes with the ambition to have Forest Foresight up and running in 15 landscapes in 12 countries by 2027.
WWF-NL is looking for investors and collaborative partners to contribute to our mission to tackle illegal deforestation. Learn here more about the initiative and how to join (PDF download).
Collaborate with Forest Foresight and WWF
The World Wide Fund for Nature is looking for parties to invest, collaborate or implement Forest Foresight. Can you take Forest Foresight to the next level and want to contribute to our mission to reduce deforestation by 30%?
Please contact the Forest Foresight team at FF@wwf.nl.
Partners of Forest Foresight
We implement Forest Foresight together with governments and local communities. The Forest Foresight program was developed and optimized through a collaboration with the Boston Consulting Group and a 'tech consortium' led by Deloitte with Amazon Web Services (AWS), Jheronimus Academy of Data Science and Utrecht University. Wageningen University and Research (WUR) and SarVision are the data and science partners providing tagged deforestation information based on radar satellite images.