The European Union has begun training Cambodia’s Forestry Administration to use satellite imagery to crack down on deforestation.
Members of the EU’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) have been meeting with forestry officials since Monday, teaching them how to analyse images captured by the EU’s Sentinel-2 satellite and use imaging software to detect signs of forest degradation.
The project, which uses open-source software designed by the JRC, is meant to assist Cambodia’s government in reducing carbon emissions released due to deforestation.
George Edgar, the EU ambassador to Cambodia, said the high-quality resolution of the satellite images would greatly improve the government’s ability to observe the impacts of illegal logging.
“Thanks to these technical characteristics, there is now much higher potential for cloud-free observation of tropical forest canopies at large-scale and several times a year, and at the same time at high spatial detail,” Edgar explained in an email.
A second satellite will be introduced next year that can produce images of any location in the country every five days.
Environmental activists welcomed the measure, but some expressed scepticism that technology alone could solve Cambodia’s deforestation issues.
“Technology is only as useful as its application,” said environmental researcher Courtney Work. “We will know when political will and practical application come together, because we will no longer see tractors loaded with wood leaving the forest everyday from multiple roads in four provinces.”