Earth observation research project tackling forest degradation shortlisted for award

Earth-imaging satellite company Planet has announced the finalists as part of its Copernicus Masters competition challenge.

An Earth observation research project that is helping to tackle the degradation of forests across the globe has been shortlisted for an award. 

Planet, which operates the world’s largest constellation of Earth-imaging satellites, has shortlisted the University’s Forest Degradation Watch project for an award as part of the Planet Daily Change Challenge - a challenge of the Copernicus Masters competition that awards prizes to developers who leverage Earth observation data to solve important problems for business and society.

Forest Degradation Watch detects forest degradation from daily 3m Planet images, integrating them with a Sentinel-2 processing chain using cloud computing. 

It is the first operational service that will deliver near-real-time forest degradation alerts to app users (forest rangers and plantation owners) and allows feedback from users via the app to a central dashboard.

Professor Heiko Balzter from our School of Geography, Geology and the Environment, who leads the project, said: “Forest Degradation Watch combines the ground-breaking satellite technology from Planet with machine learning algorithms developed at the University of Leicester. This monitoring system will allow the world to keep an eye of our forests a an unprecedented level of detail.”

Planet received a wealth of submissions to the Planet Daily Change Challenge, which were evaluated by a panel of multidisciplinary experts. Participants were first evaluated based on their written submissions to the competition, then a selection of the best ideas were invited to pitch their solutions to the panel. The three finalists were selected by Planet during the evaluation meeting in early September.

The winner of the Planet Daily Change Challenge will be announced on-stage during the awards ceremony at the European Space Week on December 4 in Marseille, France. To learn more about Copernicus Masters, visit their website and keep an eye out for the full list of finalists from all challenges coming soon.