Despite the statistics about the value of our natural resources, we are mostly going blind when it comes to resources’ current state and how to protect them. To combat the current climate change more effectively, feeding the overgrowing population and protecting marine resources, we need to close that information gap and do so as soon as possible.
As fertile and productive land continues to decay, extreme weather wreaks havoc on growing seasons, and climate change also lowers the nutritional value of what is harvested, we pay little attention to those. Forests provide the needs of 1.6 billion people as an essential resource, yet reports suggest we are destroying 18.7 million acres annually.
This presents an incredible opportunity that we need a more transparent image of the current state of the planet’s natural resources and learning how they are changing and affecting the intervention strategies. Increasingly, this information break will be filled by AI-enabled smarter solutions.
This is why 20tree.ai, a Portugal-based startup member of the NVIDIA Inception program, is collaborating with AI and satellite imagery for better monitoring. Their work enables the tracking of entire forests in a fraction of the time currently required. Earlier, manual surveying and data collection of forested areas took months, with considerable strain placed on budgets and the workforce.
Now, 20tree.ai uses a combination of AI and extremely high-quality satellite imagery and radar data to speed its work. The deep neural networks can draw insights into forest health that are otherwise invisible to the human eye.
The benefits are surveying different tree species, wood volume, tree height, and diameter. The company can then determine what they are purchasing and whether they are paying the right amount for the land or not. It can also analyze the global population and gain insights into green spaces, like tree canopy cover, urban forest diversity, and air quality. Better monitoring and management of urban forests can help mitigate heat waves, air pollution, and flooding.
The speed of technology innovation is one of the few things keeping pace with climate change. Managing these resources more effectively will not only improve the well-being of everyone on the planet but also has the potential to improve the planet itself. Perhaps for the first time, we can have the right information at our fingertips to more effectively and sustainably manage our lands, watersheds, and ecosystems.