Ecometrica, an Edinburgh-based technology company, which is leading the UK Space Agency’s Forests 2020 project to monitor tropical forests using satellite technology, is creating deforestation maps to help farmers and officials act to save endangered forest and farm sustainably.
It says it will provide African governments and cocoa companies with a critical new tool in their battle to end illegal deforestation in some supply chains and Ecometrica has helped the Ghana Forestry Commission exert pressure on suppliers to halt unsustainable practices.
The Scottish-capital based firm is now bringing together new and more detailed maps to enable cocoa companies to securely plot their supply chain and assess their impact on protected areas.
Dr Richard Tipper, chairman of Ecometrica, said: “Cocoa and chocolate companies recognise the importance of sustainability and have clearly pledged to end deforestation caused by their industry. “However, this it has proven a difficult task because companies lacked the information to assess the effectiveness of their policies. The Ecometrica platform will allow organisations to plot their own commercially confidential data onto the forest maps we are already creating with Forests 2020.”
According to him, “This will offer a unified insight into what is actually happening in the vicinity of known suppliers, especially where legitimate farms border protected forests, and will therefore play an important role in helping companies and governments to sensitively tackle the complexity of ensuring supplies come from sustainable sources.”
As a shade-loving crop, cocoa is grown under the forest canopy and can be difficult to identify from traditional satellite monitoring. Ecometrica is planning to add a further level using a method that can see through foliage to give a detailed 3D impression.