Over the past year, the number of companies making commitments to cut deforestation in their operations has risen by 22 percent to 447 . Until now, verifying progress of these commitments has been challenging, with brands and producers relying on ground-based checks by auditing firms which are ultimately limited in the amount of land they can cover and how they can monitor change. With commercial agriculture for palm, soy, cattle, timber and pulp responsible for at least two-thirds of global tropical deforestation , companies making forestry conservation pledges have been asking for a reliable verification tool to prove their commitments are working.
Airbus, together with non-profit organisation The Forest Trust (TFT) and radar satellite imagery expert SarVision, have launched Starling, an innovative satellite service enabling companies to demonstrate how they are implementing their ‘No Deforestation’ commitments. The commercial launch follows a successful six-month pilot phase in Ferrero and Nestlé’s palm oil supply chains, during which Starling has underlined its ability for unbiased monitoring of large areas on a regular basis while detecting and identifying forest cover changes with utmost accuracy. A webinar will be hosted on 29 June to show how Starling is supporting the genuine transformation of the palm oil industry by using an advanced combination of optical and radar satellite technology.
Starling provides unprecedented accuracy because of a combination of 1.5m SPOT images and radar that cuts through cloud cover, allowing year-round monitoring. This accuracy also means that Starling can easily differentiate between crop types and between replanting and deforestation. It provides and promotes transparency, allowing companies to demonstrate their commitments as well as manage their operations, reward best practice and contribute to the transformation of the wider palm oil industry.
“Ferrero is continuously committed to finding innovative solutions able to support our efforts towards a more sustainable development,” said Aldo Cristiano, Director Global Procurement Raw Materials and Group Sustainability for Ferrero. “With this in mind, and building on our achievement of 100 percent traceability of our palm oil supply to mill and 98.5 percent to plantation, Ferrero started piloting the Starling service over a few selected plantations. The first results are very positive. We are confident this could be the start of a successful journey in verifying the implementation of our No Deforestation policy”.
"Nestlé is engaged in zero deforestation by 2020 for all its supply chain. Today, even if 91 percent of our palm oil supply could be traced back to the mill, only 57 percent meets our group's sustainability commitments. To accelerate the verification and the commitment of our suppliers, Starling will allow real time measurement and monitoring of our impact on forest preservation. Starling will help us to do better and faster by co-working with our suppliers," said Pierre-Alexandre Teulié, Head of Corporate Communications, Public Affairs, e-Business and CSR at Nestlé France.
“The pilot phase, and especially the satisfaction of our customers, once again confirms our cutting-edge expertise in the forestry domain, relying on our land cover analysis tool and the unique capabilities of our SPOT satellites,” said François Lombard, Head of the Intelligence Business Cluster at Airbus Defence and Space.
“Starling is ultimately about democratising the verification process by making it more straightforward and accessible,” said Bastien Sachet, Chief Executive of TFT. “Unlike auditing, Starling is unbiased – the information is there in its purest form, allowing companies to show to their stakeholders and clients what is happening on the ground. Many companies have worked hard to create values-based policies and drive transformation in their supply chains. Starling offers a simple and cost-effective way of measuring this effort and creating opportunities for engagement.”
TFT (The Forest Trust) is a global non-profit organisation focused on transforming supply chains for the benefit of nature and people. Its supply chain, social and environmental experts work in over 25 countries to ensure that commodities are sourced with respect for people and planet. TFT leverages the transformational power of companies to innovate and bring value to everyone in the supply chain - from grower to customer. Its members include Nestlé, Wilmar International, Golden Agri-Resources, Cargill, Ferrero, Mars, ADM, 3M, Asia Pulp and Paper, B&Q and Lindt.
SarVision is a spin-off from Wageningen University in the Netherlands. SarVision pioneers the operational application of systematic satellite and airborne monitoring and mapping systems for environmental and natural resource management. Its innovative systems provide partners with the latest maps and information on land and forest cover.