Edinburgh space tech to help end deforestation in west Africa

Ecometrica will launch a tool to monitor forests using satellite technology help cocoa companies end deforestation. Picture: Lewis Rattray
Ecometrica will launch a tool to monitor forests using satellite technology help cocoa companies end deforestation. Picture: Lewis Rattray
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Edinburgh-headquartered Ecometrica will lead a UK Space Agency-backed project in efforts to end deforestation caused by the cocoa farms in west Africa.

The satellite mapping specialist will launch a platform to monitor forests in Ghana and the Ivory Coast as part of the Forests 2020 project.

Using images gathered from satellites, aircraft, and tools on the ground, it will develop a landscape-level map that separates cocoa farms from forestry.

Cocoa companies will then plot their supply chain and assess their impact on protected areas.

The project, which is supported by the Ghana Forestry Commission, aims to provide evidence of deforestation which can then be investigated by authorities.

Ecometrica chairman Richard Tipper said: “Cocoa and chocolate companies recognise the importance of sustainability and have clearly pledged to end deforestation caused by their industry. However, this it has proven a difficult task because companies lacked the information to assess the effectiveness of their policies. “[The platform] will offer a unified insight into what is actually happening in the vicinity of known suppliers, especially where legitimate farms border protected forests, and will therefore play an important role in helping companies and governments to sensitively tackle the complexity of ensuring supplies come from sustainable sources.”

There are more than two million small-scale cocoa producers in Ghana and the Ivory Coast.