How our partner Wildsense monitors carbon sink restoration from space

We need best-in-class monitoring: how satellite and AI help us make sure your investiment is doing well.

Is the project really growing?

One of the weaknesses in the carbon sink industry at this time is monitoring and follow-up. If the natural carbon sink project developer or certifier does not monitor the project, how can they know if the forest or wetland is really being restored?

At CarbonABLE we’re dead set on creating the highest quality carbon sink projects that issue premium carbon credits. That’s one reason we love partnering with Wildsense: their monitoring technology is backed by the European Space Agency.

Wildsense uses cutting-edge technology to monitor how the restoration of a particular carbon sink is progressing. Today we’re looking at some of the most important satellite monitoring tools they use: first, upscaling, and then how those upscaled images are evaluated.

Upscaling images

The Wildsense team developed a deep learning model that is able to enhance, or “upscale” satellite images from medium-res to hi-res. You know the scene in a spy movie that pulls a grainy security image and zooms in multiple times, each time the image becomes more and more clear? That’s kind of what Wildsense does when they upscale an image every month.

Clear as crystal: Wildsense’s upscaling

This serves two purposes: it allows Wildsense to get a broad feel for how the restoration is progressing. And it can be transferred to funders (like CarbonABLE NFT holders) to show that progress and increase investor confidence.

Monitoring cover change, biomass and health

In addition to collecting high-res images of the site, Wildsense uses several types of satellite images (Sentinel-1, -2, Also Palsar, and Pléiades, for those who are curious). This has allowed them to develop models that do the following:

  • Assess forest cover

If a natural disaster like a fire or a landslide damages or destroys the site, these images show how much of the site has been lost or damaged. By analyzing these before and after images, Wildsense can calculate a precise number of carbon credits to recover from the buffer area.

This model highlights and pinpoints changes in tree height and growth, letting us know how dense the forest is.
  • Estimate biomass or tree height

As a forest grows more mature and dense by tracking tree height and growth it’s possible to track increases in biomass. Knowing the change in biomass makes it possible to determine how many tons of carbon have been absorbed compared to predictions.

Wildsense can calculate the change in biomass to determine how many tons of carbon a forest is capturing
  • Estimate health

It’s even possible to check on carbon sink health from satellite images. Wildsense’s health model allows the experts to detect dieback, like areas of the site that did not survive transplanting. This is helpful to determine if seedlings are reaching maturity or if they need to be replaced.

Example of Wildsense’s health assessment images

On the ground monitoring

These satellite imaging technologies allow Wildsense to keep us up to date on the progress of the carbon sink restorations, but they’re not the only way these projects are monitored. Local caregivers of the project take photos, videos, and audio — that are geolocated and time stamped — and must report project performance on a quarterly basis. This data is then automatically synced to the project platform and can be checked whenever.

Finally, every 3–5 years, the Wildsense field team visits the project to collect random samples which help track biodiversity restoration.

Wildsense on-site visit at Banegas Farm

The speed of life

The projects we support take 10–30 years to reach maturity. It’s thanks to the ever-improving satellite imaging of Wildsense that we can track the project’s progress and guarantee our holders a premium carbon sink project. Restoring the planet’s carbon sinks won’t happen at the speed of light, but at the speed of life!

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