I am a tropical ecologist and the executive-director of the conservation organisation, Third Millennium Alliance.
The core of our work in coastal Ecuador is to protect the remaining forest of which very little remains. Over the past 50 years, Ecuador has lost about 98% of its rainforest and what remains is incredibly fragmented.
We use imagery from satellites such as the Copernicus Sentinel-2 to determine where forests are still found in coastal Ecuador and what areas have already lost that forest cover. One of the projects that we are currently working on with our partner IUCN Netherlands is the development of a mapping tool that uses satellite imagery to determine important migratory routes for threatened species such as the Ecuadorian Capuchin monkey.
So, we use satellite imagery from the Copernicus Sentinel 2 to locate remaining forest fragments and determine ways to connect those isolated patches of forest so that animals can migrate across the landscape and have a larger area to live.
The second way that we use space technology is to monitor the success of our conservation activities. Satellite imagery is used to document the process of the restoration of forest and pasture lands. Our reforestation and agroforestry activities with local communities take degraded pasture land and restore forests and habitats for local species. Using satellite imagery, we can document this change.
A number of important results have come from this collaboration and our use of satellite imagery. One is that we can now look at the amount of deforestation that has taken place over the past few decades.
We can see areas that have higher rates of deforestation and areas that are potentially threatened.
We also use satellite imagery to look at important areas surrounding the Jama-Coaque reserve and areas that we can target for purchase. There are areas on the satellite images where we see the quality of the forest, the type of the forest, and any potential threats to the forest which are very important for us to plan our conservation activities.
Working together with IUCN Netherlands, we have developed a tool that allows us to combine satellite imagery with important environmental and biological datasets to determine areas that are the most important for the Ecuadorian white-fronted Capuchin. We use satellite imagery and population data to determine zones that need to be saved in order to protect the threatened species. We can also use this to map and track the impact of our conservation work. So not only can we use it to plan conservation but also use it to monitor its success. Through reforestation activities, we are able to determine the contours of a property, and as our team and the local community work to reforest certain areas, we are able to the forest returning in satellite imagery, and by combining this with data on the ground, we are able to demonstrate the success of our conservation activity.
If I could send only one message to the viewers of the exhibition, I would say it is extremely important for all of us to work together to protect the planet’s biodiversity, get involved with NGOs, and find ways that we can improve our daily lives through more sustainable activities. Something that has always stuck in my mind is the memories and comments brought back to Earth by astronauts who have spent time on the International Space Station. When they are up there looking back at the planet, they all have the same realization. Down here on Earth, day to day, we are always dealing with conflict, wrapped up in our daily lives, but when you look back at Earth from the International Space Station, you can see that we are all on this planet together and it is the only one we have.
Video: Ryan Lynch
Video: Ryan Lynch
Video: Ryan Lynch
Protect and restore forests, promote sustainable forest management and use of terrestrial ecosystems, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and biodiversity lossCheck out more