Posted: April 12, 2024

The View From Space:

How Our Partnership With Chloris Geospatial Takes Project Monitoring to a Whole New Level

Our work doesn’t end once a carbon project is up and running — in many ways, it’s just beginning.

That’s because the critical job of maintaining ongoing project quality — and by quality we mean real and measurable climate, environmental, and social impact — rests in large part on our ability to continually and accurately track and monitor the progress of projects as they evolve.

Our comprehensive approach to project monitoring combines traditional boots-on-the-ground field work (think: regular site visits, collaborating with developers to implement projects, engaging local communities) with leveraging the latest state-of-the-art monitoring tools and technologies available.

When it comes to the latter, our new partnership with the smart and talented people at Chloris Geospatial will give us access to game-changing technology that measures climate impact by providing the view from (way, way, way) above.

The Chloris Platform uses geospatial data to provide science-based forest carbon insights by measuring the amount of carbon stored in terrestrial ecosystems — from space. This amounts to a revolutionary leap in transparency and integrity of carbon accounting, because it delivers direct estimates of above-ground biomass stock and change, revealing carbon emissions and carbon capture at a glance.

And biomass tells us a whole lot about what we need to know.

Changes in aboveground biomass stock over a five-year period for an improved forest management project are clearly visualized in the newly released Chloris 10 m resolution product allowing an accurate understanding of project evolution.

Instead of counting trees, the technology is actually weighing them (i.e. their biomass), providing a much more accurate assessment of carbon impact. The platform can then monitor any changes in biomass — both carbon losses and carbon gains — arising from any source, including deforestation and degradation of forests, and growth and re-growth of trees. Not only do direct estimates of biomass tell us how much the carbon has changed, but also where those changes occurred.

That kind of data allows us to keep track of real carbon impact, better understand what’s driving changes to carbon stock, and assess urgent and ongoing threats to natural ecosystems. Looking at historical geospatial analysis also helps us assess compliance with VCM methodologies and evaluate whether projects are meeting registry requirements and credit issuance schedules, which ultimately reduces risk.

Understanding biomass trends also allows us to work with project developers and community members to track environmental change, mitigate risk, and enable communities to have the agency to make sustainable decisions within the project region.

As well as identifying spatial variability, the Chloris platform allows us to track forest density trends at the project level, evaluating trends in tons of CO2e per hectare.

The Chloris Platform is an incredible tool that, in terms of accuracy and cost-effectiveness, constitutes a huge scientific advance from traditional methods like airborne measurement instruments (think drones) or on-the-ground sampling. As Chloris puts it, with respect to carbon emissions and removals, now we can “see what the atmosphere sees”. 

And, this crystalized view of projects from above is only coming into sharper focus as Catona is an early adopter of Chloris’ new 10 meter capabilities. How much clearer?  Currently, 30 meters of resolution means 9 pixels per hectare. But now, 10 meters of resolution provides 100 pixels per hectare. This higher resolution unlocks a clearer view of biomass distribution, including a better ability to track very, very specific environmental changes within small plots of a project. More pixels. More understanding. More impact.

As the VCM matures, legitimate questions around the integrity and climate impact of forest conservation and restoration projects are sure to keep arising. Transparent, reliable data demonstrating measurable climate impact will be increasingly critical to addressing those concerns. 

The scalability of the Chloris platform across entire landscapes will make it easier to assess project performance relative to the landscape they’re embedded in — which means issues like additionality, selection bias, or leakage can be addressed in a spatially explicit and evidence-based way. And because it’s far more cost-effective than traditional methods, more funds can go directly toward making an impact as opposed to measuring it. 

And of course, impact — on climate, environment, and community — is what these projects are all about. The tools this partnership unlocks for us are about much more than cool pictures from space: there’s a direct connection between the insights we can glean from geospatial data and the wellbeing of plants and people on the ground.

Stay tuned for more on Catona’s comprehensive monitoring approach encompassing bioacoustic monitoring, hi-resolution satellite imagery, canopy height tracking and more.

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