Specialist companies have created images of the earth’s surface using satellite mapping. They now have global coverage of the palm oil supply chain, and because palm oil is no longer the main cause of deforestation globally, they now monitor cocoa, rubber, soy and other commodities too.
They use satellites which can see through clouds (important in countries such as Indonesia which have long rainy seasons) and combine this with local on-the-ground intelligence and machine learning to create a comprehensive picture of forests and land use. This gives much higher levels of scrutiny of the industry than ever before.
Satellite monitoring offers real-time alerts of forestry changes to the companies in the palm oil supply chain (growers, traders and manufacturers). They can then act on the alert and investigate the changes in that area and intervene if necessary.
Thanks to satellites – some operated by NASA – the industry now has accurate records of the condition of forests globally going back to the 1980s – so they can track trends, and help companies to implement science-based responses to the challenges they face, and have better insight into the risks they face. The technology can also be used to monitor forest fire risk and flooding problems, too – and they are working on developing the capability to forecast deforestation before it occurs.
Watch this video to see how one of our members, Bunge, is using satellite monitoring to ensure sustainable palm oil practices.