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Using Space to Protect the Rainforests

Norway's International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI) is our largest international effort to slow down climate change. The focus is on protecting the world's rain forests.

Skogbruk i regnskog

Photo: CIFOR

Forests, and especially the rainforests, all over the world are some of the most important and complex natural environments on earth, with the greatest diversity of species.

The loss of rainforests is a major contributor to the climate crisis.

By absorbing large amounts of CO2, rain forests help to slow down global warming. Tropical forests also have many other important functions, such as being a source of water and food, and they are essential for both humans and animals.

But the world's forests, and especially the rainforests, are rapidly disappearing due to logging, agriculture and other development. To know how to protect the forests, it is imperative to effectively monitor them. NICFI's Satellite Data Program is making sure that people all over the world get access to free high resolution images of the tropics.

Universally accessible images

In September 2020 NICFI signed a contract worth close to NOK 400 million with Kongsberg Satellite Services and their partners Airbus and Planet. Their mission is to make satellite images universilly accessible. Since then the satellite program has registered more than 18 000 users from 158 different countries.

These satellite images have a resolution of at least five meters, which means that each image point corresponds to five meters on the ground, or less. The satellite images are available to everyone, both donor countries, recipient countries and independent organizations, providing the international community with increased insight into how the forest and land is used.

Such satellite data will also be valuable in other fields, such as agriculture, mapping, and planning and infrastructure development.