Posted: April 30, 2024


for Impact

Part 1: Remote Sensing and GIS – Eyes from the Sky

Apr 30, 2024, 11:55am PDT • FIELD NOTES

Welcome to a three-part blog series that will walk through how Catona Climate monitors our projects and collaborates with partners to deliver the highest quality outcomes for our carbon offset project investments.

Carbon offset projects offer real solutions to the climate crisis, however, how can you be sure that a project results in tangible impact for the climate, environment, and communities on the ground? This is where a robust, multifaceted portfolio monitoring strategy comes into play. At Catona Climate, we do our due diligence and take project monitoring and accountability very seriously.  

Every one of our projects must align with the relevant carbon registry methodology and contribute toward our internal benchmarks and impact goals. This allows us to help make sure that all of the projects in our investment portfolio ultimately achieve the greatest climate, community, and environmental impact possible. We set short- and long-term targets and work with our project partners to help keep their projects on track and deliver credible results. This in turn gives us the crucial confidence that we are only providing the highest quality carbon credits to our customers with wide-ranging benefits in addition to CO2 removal and reduction.

Our Carbon Portfolio Monitoring Strategy

A robust monitoring strategy relies on more than one type of data to assess progress and impact. Catona Climate uses triangulation — a holistic way to verify data and information is accurate and representative by analyzing multiple types of data or applying different monitoring methodologies. We apply a four-part monitoring strategy across all projects in our portfolio to attain the greatest confidence in our data:

  1. Collaborate with project partners to support robust climate, environmental and community indicator data design, measurement and analysis including data metrics for tree growth and survival rates, carbon biomass, crop production, biodiversity levels, soil carbon, socioeconomic benefits and more;
  2. Utilize geospatial data and remote sensing techniques to track vegetation changes, carbon biomass estimates, and threat detection across all sites in our portfolio;
  3. Conduct annual site visits to project sites to evaluate progress and outcomes, as well as identify any risks, speak with community members engaged in the project, and assess the overall project management and monitoring practices at each site; and
  4. Third party validation and verification bodies assess all carbon offset projects against the relevant independent carbon standard and provide reports to the project developer and Catona Climate with key findings and recommendations for action.

This is the first installment in our blog series that will walk through how we implement our monitoring strategy, collaborate with our project partners and identify new tools and technology that allow us to expand our MRV system. First, we will take a look at how Catona Climate monitors our projects from the sky through geospatial data and remote sensing.

Remote Sensing & GIS Lets Our Experts Track Progress Any Time, Any Place

Carbon offset projects such as reforestation, regenerative agriculture, improved grazing, or mangrove restoration generally take place across thousands of hectares of land. It’s very difficult for us or our partners to be everywhere within a project site at one time. By analyzing geospatial data using geographic information systems (GIS) – which captures, stores, checks, and displays data related to positions on Earth’s surface – we track project progress and analyze ecosystem or climatic changes over time, right from our desks. 

First, we use open source and proprietary geospatial datasets to assess project sites during our initial project due diligence and evaluation phase to determine what types of threats or degradation have occurred at the site historically. We then layer on historical and predictive modeling of climatic, meteorological, urban development, and vegetation data to understand if project site conditions are favorable and viable for the project type.

Satellite imagery highlighting visible agricultural changes occurring in a landscape over time. Data provided by ESRI World Imagery Wayback Animate tool (2023).

Once a project is established, we regularly track the progress and change over time of the meteorological conditions, ecosystem health, aboveground carbon stock, and any emerging threats (e.g. fire, floods, urban encroachment). We analyze aboveground carbon biomass, vegetation vigor and canopy growth through several different indices and models.

2020 Canopy height data¹ highlights deforested (white) regions and different canopy heights. Image over Brazil, accessed through Global Forest Watch.

Catona Climate also monitors changes in aboveground carbon biomass through our partnership with Chloris Geospatial using AI-generated models that have been trained and validated through LiDAR (a remote sensing method that uses light from a pulsed laser to measure distance to the Earth). We also track changes in canopy height and cover and use data collected from in-situ measurement and sampling. This allows us to analyze the change in forest growth over time and develop accurate estimates of aboveground carbon stock (the carbon stored in trees) that will then be validated by our project partners and 3rd party validation and verification bodies.

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 © Chloris Geospatial, 2024.

Lastly, we triple check our own geospatial data analysis against resources such as Global Forest Watch to determine changes in forest loss or gain and carbon flux across project sites over time.  We receive vegetation change and fire alerts for our project sites, which we compare to the alerts we receive from our internal GIS monitoring systems to ensure we have the most up-to-date information on any threats to our sites and can follow up with our partners directly on the ground.

Integrated deforestation alerts from the GLAD², GLAD-S2³, and RADD⁴ systems enable us to track deforestation within and surrounding project areas. Source: "Integrated Deforestation Alerts". UMD/GLAD and WUR, accessed through Global Forest Watch.

Through a combination of high-resolution satellite imagery and geospatial data sources, we can keep an eye on our projects from anywhere in the world – a true game changer for project monitoring. This information is supplemented with on-the-ground data and updates from our project partners, which enables us to have continuous information coming in from our projects at any time of the year. Add to this our own in-person site visits and 3rd party verification, and the outcome is the highest quality carbon credits delivering credible, impactful results for the climate, environment, and communities around the globe.

Stay tuned for the next two installments of our blog series as we explore the other elements of our monitoring system that we use to deliver the highest quality outcomes for our carbon projects.

1. Potapov, P., Li, X., Hernandez-Serna, A., Tyukavina, A., Hansen, M.C., Kommareddy, A., Pickens, A., Turubanova, S., Tang, H., Silva, C.E. and Armston, J., 2021. Mapping global forest canopy height through integration of GEDI and Landsat data. Remote Sensing of Environment, 253, p.112165.

2. Hansen, M.C., A. Krylov, A. Tyukavina, P.V. Potapov, S. Turubanova, B. Zutta, S. Ifo, B. Margono, F. Stolle, and R. Moore. 2016. Humid tropical forest disturbance alerts using Landsat data. Environmental Research Letters, 11 (3). (

3. Pickens, A.H., Hansen, M.C., Adusei, B., and Potapov P. 2020. Sentinel-2 Forest Loss Alert. Global Land Analysis and Discovery (GLAD), University of Maryland

4. Reiche, J., Mullissa, A., Slagter, B., Gou, Y., Tsendbazar, N.E., Braun, C., Vollrath, A., Weisse, M.J., Stolle, F., Pickens, A., Donchyts, G., Clinton, N., Gorelick, N., Herold, M. 2021. Forest disturbance alerts for the Congo Basin using Sentinel-1. Environmental Research Letters. (
Tracy Bain photo

Tracy Bain

Tracy Bain is Catona Climate's Vice President of Carbon Program Monitoring & Engagement. With deep field experience, Tracy leads our project monitoring and has previously held roles at IFAW, WCN, and the Packard Foundation.

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