More than 30% of our planet is covered by forests. Unfortunately, they are becoming increasingly endangered. Deforestation is destroying 18 million acres of land every year, with a range of adverse effects threatening living conditions globally. At the same time, deforestation accounts for more than 15% of greenhouse gas emissions. Growing populations, rising demand for food along with promotion of a low-carbon economy has translated to an unprecedented pressure on forest ecosystems worldwide; either to take more land for agriculture or for using wood products and fiber for energy, housing or packaging. In turn, this leads to accelerated deforestation, forest degradation and forest conversion. The change is now and the European Union has recently announced its ambition to anticipate, conceive and implement policies and tools able to address deforestation effectively.


What are the EU Commitments in terms of Deforestation?

In 2019, the European Commission published a communication highlighting the need to further protect forests. Priority activities included to reduce the use of commodities and derived products related to deforestation, whilst strengthening cooperation across different actors.

In the context of the Green Deal, the European Parliament urged to step up action to further protect forests. In October 2020, it called to initiate a binding legal framework. The legislative proposal should include aspects such as mandatory requirements for due diligence, reporting mechanisms and transparency across supply chains. 


What difficulties is the EU facing?

Ensuring the sustainability of rich forest and biodiversity recosystems requires objective and reliable mechanisms, at scale. However, current solutions for verifying forest conservation do not always meet the expectations of public and private stakeholders. The lack of data quality for land use and land use change has been identified as one of the issues to tackle.


How can Satellite Imagery and Digital support the EU in their Commitment?

Space-based applications and services are key enablers to catalyse action. Satellite imagery, such as Copernicus Sentinel and high resolution commercial imagery provide a solid basis to work with. They are objective, refreshed daily and provide global coverage. The combination of satellite imagery, artificial intelligence and validation data from boots on the ground has the potential to deliver an automated, worldwide, all-year and real-time verification solutions.

Indonesia Borneo Forest

How is the Starling Service a Key Asset for Progress?

Airbus and the EarthWorm Foundation have joined their expertise to develop Starling, a global service initially developed to verify no-deforestation and responsible sourcing commitments made by the private sector.

Today, existing digital services, such as Starling, can immediately help the EU accelerate and deliver on its no-deforestation commitments. Starling is designed to support the action plan that EU will deem best to achieve its strategy, should it be due diligence, bilateral or multilateral cooperation, impact assessment or certification mechanisms.