Better earth observation data can unlock landscape restoration at scale
We have a real conundrum: while it may be difficult and risky to work with nature—the recent fires, droughts and floods serve as a reminder of the challenges we face—protecting and restoring forests is our best chance to win the race against climate change and at the same time put a halt on catastrophic biodiversity loss.

It’s therefore critical that we move beyond pilot projects and reach scale in forest landscape restoration. Technology is a key enabler, and can help reduce the risks and uncertainty that are inherent to working with nature.  

At WeForest, our approach to restoring forests and landscapes is grounded both in the local context and best practices in monitoring and evaluation (M&E). This means working with local communities to build lasting restoration solutions, as well as using recognized techniques to plan and measure our impact, for example standardized methodologies for biomass growth calculations.

We are also piloting new technology to improve forest landscape restoration. This includes using flux towers—micrometeorological sites—to measure greenhouse gas fluxes, evaporation, rainfall and tide levels. We also use environmental DNA—genetic material obtained directly from environmental samples—to measure biodiversity baselines.

Despite using all these techniques, and achieving impressive results through our projects, we still face risks when selecting sites for restoration and are not able to consistently factor in all parameters, such as water salinity in mangroves.

We already use Earth observations in our projects. However we believe that a large-scale, approach—as proposed by the GEO wetlands initiative—that uses the best science and data to provide trusted, integrated information on several environmental and social indicators could be transformative to reach higher levels of success at lower costs.

With the necessary environmental intelligence, we can plan and measure with sufficient accuracy at scale, and grow confidence to unlock the investments needed to fully realise the potential of forest landscape restoration.

WeForest, along with speakers from NASA and Arcmor Ventures will join a GEO-hosted panel on Earth Observations to Unlock Investment in Nature-Based Solutions at the Corporate Investments into Forests and Biodiversity conference in Amsterdam on 14 September at 12:00 CEST.