Carbomap creates ‘MRI scanner for forests’

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A SPIN-OUT company from Edinburgh University aims to grab a slice of the £1.6 billion global forest monitoring market after unveiling an “MRI scanner” for trees.

Carbomap will carry out surveys for forest owners and governments to measure how much carbon dioxide (CO2) is absorbed by woodlands.

Climate change negotiations at the United Nations are moving towards a global forest carbon credit scheme, under which residents in developing countries could be paid to keep forests to absorb the CO2 emitted by heavy industry in developed nations.

Chief executive Professor Iain Woodhouse described Carbomap’s technology as “the MRI scanner of forest measurement”. He said: “Traditionally, aircraft have carried out surveys using lasers operating at just one wavelength in the near-infra red.

“We came up with the idea of looking at forests in multiple wavelengths and different colours of visible light to 
obtain information about how much timber is in a forest and how well it is taking CO2 out of the atmosphere.”

Woodhouse helped set up fellow spin-out company 
Ecometrica in 2008.

Carbomap has raised about £140,000 from Edinburgh University’s technology fund, Scottish Enterprise and its own directors, and aims to bring in up to £200,000 next month through ShareIn, a new Scottish equity crowdfunding platform. The firm is already recruiting its first two software developers.

Perry Guess, head of knowledge exchange at the Natural Environment Research Council, said: “Having supported Iain and backing his research from its beginnings through to bringing a product to market, it’s incredibly rewarding for us to see this deliver a business that’s taking on people.”