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Planet’s hi-res tropical forest base maps are available on Google Earth Engine

NICFI Tropical Forest Basemaps Now Available in Google Earth Engine.

WGIC Secretariat September 8, 2021
NICFI Tropical Forest Basemaps Now Available In Google Earth Engine

WGIC Member Planet Labs is partnering with Google to make high-resolution tropical forest base maps available on Google Earth Engine. This will enable the long-running NICFI Satellite Data Program to operate scalable impact initiatives for tropical forest loss.

Study at scales not possible through traditional means
This brings the power of Google’s cloud to the entire community of Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI). It’ll run an analysis at regional and global levels to study the effects and solutions of tropical forest loss at scales not possible through traditional means. “From its inception ten years ago, Google Earth Engine’s mission has been a global-scale platform for Earth science data & analysis to further the most pressing environmental and societal issues we face,” said Brian Sullivan, Sr. Program Manager at Google, in a press statement issued by Planet Labs. “By partnering with the NICFI program to connect the first high resolution, deep time-series  imagery with the latest geospatial and machine learning platforms, groups working to stop deforestation will now have access to insights and solutions at a previously unprecedented scale.” Early Access Users have tested and proven the integration in their real-world applications, facilitating next-level discussions between scientists and policy-makers in the fight to reduce and reverse tropical forest loss.

Uptake by UN, Universities, Governments
United Nations
Early access users from the Forestry Department of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations demonstrate the ability to automatically analyze deforestation and land cover changes now that the high-resolution NICFI-Planet data is available in Google Earth Engine’s cloud computing platform.

Wageningen University
Researchers at Wageningen University in the Netherlands plan to leverage this solution to power machine learning models to detect forest disturbances at higher spatial and temporal resolutions. Their RADD alert system currently leverages Sentinel-1 radar data to detect forest disturbances at scale; now, with the Planet-NICFI analysis-ready Basemaps available in GEE, they will test whether the driver of change changes can be classified with high-resolution, near-real-time optical data. “The use of Planet data is an important step forward in obtaining these advanced near real-time insights, as it is the first time that high-resolution time-series data <5m with wall-to-wall tropical coverage is openly available,” said Bart Slagter, Doctoral Researcher at Wageningen University. “The high-resolution is necessary [for the model to] to classify small-scale disturbances, such as narrow logging roads, single tree harvesting, small-scale mining, and subsistence agriculture.”

University of Copenhagen
At the University of Copenhagen, researchers were previously downloading the Planet-NICFI data to a local server. Now, they can access the data directly in the GEE catalog, where they plan to bring it into their custom studies on biomass mapping, tree species classification, and restoration monitoring. Post-doctoral researcher Xiaoye Tong notes that the solution makes research operations much more convenient and enables pantropical analysis that is not possible on local servers.

SERVIR (NASA, USAID, and partners)
Government agencies are also accessing Planet-NICFI Basemaps in GEE to drive new conservation solutions. SERVIR is a partnership of NASA and USAID and leading geospatial organizations in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, that helps communities incorporate satellite Earth data into decision-making—tackling complex challenges like food security, water resources, and disaster mitigation. SERVIR partners with countries and organizations to co-develop tools, services, and training tailored to local needs. With Planet-NICFI data into Google Earth Engine, SERVIR can deliver greater convenience to its partners. Access to high-resolution data in GEE provides a new level of detail and insight to decision-makers. In West Africa, Planet-NICFI data is already helping SERVIR monitor charcoal production, a key driver of deforestation in the region.

Providing Universal Access
In September 2020, Norway’s Ministry of Climate and Environment awarded an international contract to Kongsberg Satellite Services (KSAT), who, in partnership with Planet and Airbus, have since been providing universal access to high-resolution satellite monitoring of the tropics to support efforts to stop deforestation and save the world’s tropical forests. With access to Planet’s high-quality data, countries around the globe are better prepared to protect the world’s tropical forests against deforestation and tackle climate change.   

This integration is only available to NICFI Data Program users and GEE users. Interested parties not already enrolled in the program, please sign up here. Existing NICFI Data Program users with GEE accounts can sign up for access here. Visit Planet’s developer page for more information.