IoT Combats Deforestation

June 9, 2020

Forests are vital as animal habitats, as well as for carbon dioxide absorption. Illegal logging is one contributing factor to the degradation of the world’s forests. IoT is being used to combat illegal logging and aid in reforestation efforts.

Planting Forests with Drones

Dendra Systems (formerly BioCarbon Engineering) aims to plant 500 billion trees by 2060. The company uses satellite imagery, drone-collected soil data and other factors to assess if land is suitable for reforestation. Once approved, drones fire biodegradable seedpods into the land, which germinate when touched by water. One drone can plant 120 seedpods per minute, and a team of 10 drones can plant 10 billion trees each year. Dendra estimates planting by drone is 150 times faster than planting by hand and up to 10 times cheaper.

Detecting Illegal Logging with Sensors

Rainforest Connection creates listening devices from recycled smart phones to sense the sounds of illegal logging – a chainsaw, truck engine, people talking or gun shots. The devices run continuously and are installed in the canopy, up to 150 feet high. Once a suspicious sound is detected, an alert is sent to local authorities who can investigate. Rainforest Connection’s first installation detected illegal logging within 48 hours. Over 150 devices are currently active in rainforests in Peru, Cameroon and Brazil.

Satellite Imaging to Monitor Deforestation

Pachama uses drone and satellite imaging to monitor the carbon capacity of reforested land to measure the value of carbon offsets. Traditionally, workers must travel to a site and individually measure every tree in order to gain such data. Pachama’s goal is to offer companies better tools to monitor their carbon offsets more efficiently and thus be more effective in their carbon reduction efforts.

Companies like Nestlé use satellite imaging and artificial intelligence to monitor their supply chains. Companies are alerted when deforestation is detected around supplier mills or farms. Companies can then contact their suppliers about the issue. These programs allow companies to take accountability and act when dealing with potentially untrustworthy suppliers. Some programs have publicly available data, aiding transparency.

Bitcoin for Sustainable Timber Production

TreeCoin is a blockchain program aiming to plant 37 million trees in South America. The initial goal is to plant 10 million eucalyptus trees in Paraguay. Each “TREE token” sold within the cryptocurrency represents one tree planted and grants the holder a share of future harvest profits. The trees will be systematically grown and harvested over 23 years, offering a sustainable logging model. TreeCoin then plans to use the profits to purchase additional deforested land and expand the project.

As reforestation efforts continue around the world, IoT proves to be a valuable tool.