Posted: December 13, 2022

Catona Climate Project Monitoring & Engagement

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

Welcome to a new, four-part blog series on the monitoring components that Catona Climate uses to guarantee the highest quality in 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 a tangible impact for the climate, environment, and communities on the ground?  This is where robust, multi-faceted monitoring, reporting, and verification (MRV) comes into play. At Catona Climate, we do our due diligence and take MRV 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 ensure that all of the projects in our 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 ensure their projects are on track and delivering 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 Project 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 ensure robust climate, environmental and community indicator data collection and analysis is occurring at the site level and shared with Catona Climate, including tree growth and survival rates, carbon biomass, crop production, biodiversity levels, soil carbon, community income generation and more;
  2. Utilize geospatial data and remote sensing 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 challenges, 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 a new blog series that will walk through each of the four monitoring components, focusing on one per publication.  This month, 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 data using geographic information systems (GIS) – which captures, stores, checks, and displays data related to positions on Earth’s surface – and high-resolution satellite imagery, 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, hydrological, urban development, or vegetation data to understand if project site conditions are favorable and viable for the project type.

Wayback GIS

Satellite Imagery over an Catona Climate project site highlighting agricultural changes and forest cover variation. 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 vegetation vigor and canopy growth through several different indices and models.

imperative_canopy_height_2020

2020 Canopy Height Image (Lang et al., 2022) (REF) of Catona Climate project site showing taller vegetation within our project site, within which trees are being planted.

test map area

Analysis of area within project site to assess change precipitation (Rodell et al., 2004) over time and evaluate potential threats from drought, and climatological warming

Catona Climate also monitors changes in aboveground carbon stock, tree height, and canopy cover 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) and data collected from direct, on the ground 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.

Lens Project Site Carbon Biomass

Image of project site showing aboveground carbon biomass layer with brighter colors representing higher concentrations of carbon stock (layer developed by Planet/Salo Sciences).

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.

imperative_tree_loss_gain_gfw_sentinel2_background

Global Forest Watch tree cover estimates of Catona Climate project site showing an increase in tree cover gain (blue) between 2000 and 2020. Pink regions indicate regions of tree cover loss that occur primarily outside of the project area.

Through a combination of high-resolution satellite imagery and GIS data, we can keep an eye on our projects from anywhere in the world – a true game changer for reforestation 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 three installments of our blog series as we explore the other elements of our monitoring system that we use to guarantee the highest quality for our carbon projects.

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