New radar-based deforestation alert to improve African rainforests monitoring

20 January 2021

A new deforestation alert based on latest radar satellite technologies promises to make monitoring of African rainforests more effective. The users will receive near-real-time notifications of forest disturbance activities like illegal logging, which will allow appropriate interventions.

The new system has been developed by the Wageningen University, in collaboration with World Resources Institute‘s Global Forest Watch (GFW) program, Google, the European Space Agency, the University of Maryland and Deltares.

The RAdar for Detecting Deforestation (RADD) alerts are available via the RADD website, the related app and will be soon accessible on GFW.

According to the Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020, the world’s deforestation hotspot is now in Africa, which recorded an increase in the average annual rate of net forest area loss in 2010-2020 when compared to the previous two decades.

Covering 25 countries across the African humid tropical region and in particular the Congo Basin, RADD will be a precious resource to monitor deforestation and reduce illegal logging in an area which is home to irreplaceable biodiversity and a key carbon reservoir for the entire planet.

The new alerts are based on ESA’s satellite Sentinel-1 radar technology, which make them more responsive compared to existing alerts systems based on the optical. Read why in this beautiful story on RADD, including testimonials from developers and NGOs.

More details on the methodology can also be found in the accompanying Paper in Environmental Research Letters.