New Agreement Ensures Continuity of Mapping and Monitoring Methods Developed Through Forests 2020
Accra/Edinburgh, 1 August 2019 – Ghana is stepping up its commitment to help end deforestation due to cocoa farming, by partnering with Ecometrica, the downstream space and sustainability company. The agreement sees the Forestry Commission of Ghana (FCG) adopt the Ecometrica mapping platform in its production and delivery of high quality maps and forest monitoring information, which are at the heart of the Cocoa & Forests Initiative Frameworks for Action (CFI), agreed by Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire at the COP23 UN Climate Change Conference.
Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, chief executive of FCG, stated that the accurate and timely information, accessible to all stakeholders, are critical to the future success of the CFI, sustainable forest management and reliable information for international forest monitoring obligations in Ghana.
“The Ecometrica Platform will provide access to essential mapping and monitoring information to cocoa industry, stakeholders and national institutions involved in the CFI, to ensure compliance with legal and voluntary commitments.”
As leader of the UK Space Agency’s Forests 2020 Project, Ecometrica has been supporting the FCG improve its monitoring and mapping to determine the effects of cocoa farming on forests for several years. This new agreement ensures that the collaboration will continue beyond the life of the project funding.
Ecometrica’s executive chairman, Dr Richard Tipper, explained: “This is a landmark step in our plans for Ghana and an important development in ensuring sustainability beyond 2020.
“Significantly, this will also create a long-term revenue stream for the Commission, as we will also distribute the maps that have been created by the Commission. This will help make its commitment to high quality mapping and monitoring of cocoa farms and forests self-sustaining.”
Sarah Middlemiss, space programme manager at Ecometrica, who has led the Forests 2020 project for the company, said accurate and readily available maps would be essential to ensure the success of the initiative.
“This agreement ensures the tools and methods developed through Forests 2020 will be widely adopted and become the national standard in Ghana,” Middlemiss said. “For the companies involved, that gives them the security of monitoring their supply chains through a state-of-the-art system that is guaranteed by a national government.”
Cocoa buyers need to be able to accurately assess the impact of their efforts to combat deforestation in their supply chains, and this agreement will provide commercial access to accurate and regularly updated maps.
Because cocoa is a shade-loving crop and can grow under forest canopy, other available methods to map the spread of cocoa farming had proven ineffective. The work carried out by Ecometrica and its partners in Ghana, through the Forests 2020 project, ensured that accurate maps were developed, showing the true impact of the cocoa supply chain. These will now be updated on a regular basis to reflect efforts to tackle deforestation.
Further agreements between Ecometrica and the companies involved in the Cocoa and Forests Initiative are expected, as the company’s technology and content platform helps create a new standard for environmental monitoring.
Forests 2020 is a major investment by the UK Space Agency, as part of the International Partnerships Programme (IPP), to help protect and restore up to 300 million hectares of tropical forests by improving forest monitoring in six partner countries through advanced uses of satellite data. IPP is a £30m a year programme funded from the UK government’s Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF). IPP uses satellite data to deliver measurable impact to developing and emerging economies, directly influencing 10 UN Sustainable Development Goals. Forest2020 is the largest project within IPP’s portfolio.
Project managed by Ecometrica, Forests 2020 brings together some of the UK’s leading experts on forest monitoring at the Universities of Edinburgh and Leicester, and Carbomap.
Forests 2020 – Ghana
Forests 2020 is the UK Space Agency’s flagship project to improve the monitoring of tropical forests. It involves a £14.2 million UK investment matched by resources from partner countries – Ghana, Kenya, Brazil, Indonesia, Colombia and Mexico. Led by Ecometrica, it involves more than 20 international partner organisations.
The project aims to improve forest monitoring systems in developing countries using spatial methods to support forest governance and biodiversity conservation. Spatial tools help to accurately and realistically understand the effect of land uses on sustainable forest management and allow for informed policies and interventions.
The Forestry Commission of Ghana and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology are at the centre of the Forests 2020 project in Ghana.
As a country, Ghana is faced with the difficulty of differentiating the causes of deforestation, as there is no conclusive way of easily understanding how forest cover gain is driven by crops such as cashew and mango, rather than timber plantations. The same can be said of cocoa expansion in the high forest zone.
Furthermore, Ghana is challenged by the lack of a national digital spatial infrastructure that will hold reliable spatial data and share it with end users. With cocoa a mainstay of the economy, which provides sustainable livelihood to many rural communities but contributes to deforestation, it is critically important to have a cost-effective rapid detection system for cocoa expansion in real-time, to ensure sustainability. The heightened focus on sustainable cocoa supply chains, which do not contribute to deforestation, has given this added impetus.
It is for this reason that the Forests 2020 project primarily focuses on addressing these forest monitoring gaps. The thematic areas of the project are:
- Mapping of tree crops, especially cocoa from forest
- Mapping of mangrove forest
- Mapping of burnt scars in savannah landscape
- Degradation assessment using Earth observation application
- Development of a unified forest monitoring system
The overall purpose is to institute a governance structure that will ensure that forest fringe communities fully participate in forest monitoring and derive the benefits thereof. Work to ensure the project’s sustainability – and to improve monitoring further with new techniques such as LIDAR, is ongoing.
Ecometrica, the downstream space and sustainability company, turns the vast and growing streams of observation data from space, air and land into actionable insights for business, government and society.
A leading provider of sustainability and earth observation services, its satellite mapping technology is being used to protect 300 million hectares of tropical forests as part of the Forests 2020 project, which Ecometrica is spearheading on behalf of the UK Space Agency’s International Partnership Programme (IPP).
Ecometrica is one of the world’s top sustainability brands, as named by industry analyst Verdantix. It is the only CDP Gold Software Partner for its climate change, forests and water programmes. Ecometrica’s geospatial data mapping services, which support all aspects of sustainability planning, operations and reporting by businesses and public organisations, are available worldwide, through offices in the UK, USA, Canada and Mexico.
The firm is a winner of the prestigious Environmental Leader Product of the Year Award two years in a row, for its Ecometrica Platform. It is also ranked on the FT1000 list of Europe’s fastest growing companies and Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500.
Founded in 2008, Ecometrica’s formidable story derives directly from the vision of its founding members and leadership – executive chairman Dr Richard Tipper, chief executive Gary Davis and chief product officer Bertrand Revenaz. Backed by a team of recognised experts, Ecometrica has unrivalled experience in environmental sustainability accounting and reporting.
The Ecometrica Platform, a web-based accounting and sustainability management solution, combines earth observation data from satellites with local information and business intelligence, to bring clarity to environmental and natural resource challenges facing corporates and governments alike. It helps businesses to easily track and map their impact on natural capital assets, like forests and water, tracking supply chain activity, verifying sustainable product sourcing, and environmental reporting to established sustainability frameworks. It makes the terabytes of raw data being sent to Earth by satellites easily accessible, bringing limitless possibilities for its application. It is the only sustainability software solution with audit-ready assurance from a Big Four auditor (PwC). For the largest customers who get their accounts externally audited, this means avoiding costly pre-audit fees that often run into hundreds of thousands of pounds per year.