Tropical deforestation monitoring and characterisation tool

From 2002 to 2023, Brazil lost 30.7 Mha of primary rainforest, a 9% decrease in forest area. This use case will create a 10 m radar-based tool to monitor and characterize deforestation and its drivers in tropical forests to be tested in Brazil. We will primarily use Sentinel-1 data and future SAR missions associated with real-time drivers mapped by Sentinel-2 and Planet optical data to enable the separation of natural and human disturbances.

Wageningen University is leading the efforts together with INPE (Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais), which has among its main missions to monitor forests in Brazil, and the World Resources Institute.

What is the challenge?

Deforestation is currently a global problem and a scourge for sustainable development and the health of the planet. We usually know that deforestation is occurring, but we don’t understand why. More and timely information is needed to take mitigation action. Currently, data is lacking in some regions of the world and, where it exists, it may be difficult to access or reuse due to weak connections between national data systems or poor collaboration with global initiatives. Another problem is the privacy of some of this data. This use case aims to improve the monitoring of deforestation and, at the same time, to better understand what are the drivers of deforestation.

Fishbone Deforestation Rondônia, Brazil August 5, 2016. Author: Planet Labs, INC (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Our solution

RADD (RAdar for Detecting Deforestation) Forest Disturbance Alerts is a product developed by Wageningen University which contributes to the World Resources Institute Global Forest Watch initiative in providing timely and accurate information to support sustainable forest management. It is currently working in some areas of South Africa, mainly the Congo basins, and South America. This use case aims to expand it to other locations, like Brazil’s rainforest, together with INPE.

Furthermore, this use case is developing an open and free 10 m radar-based disturbance monitoring tool. The aim is to obtain a dinamic product that contains yearly data in an adaptable way. For that, we are implementing AI in the developing models. We are using data maing coming from Sentinel-1 and future SAR missions associated with real-time drivers mapped by Sentinel-2 and Planet optical data to enable the separation of natural and human disturbances.

Who will benefit?

On one hand, the Tropical Deforestation Monitoring and Characterisation Tool is expected to assist national governments in monitoring and reporting on the effects of the deforestation mitigation measures they are implementing in relation to the laws in force. 

This tool will also help companies to comply with new regulations, such as the EU Deforestation Free Regulation (EUDR) affecting the suply chain for the importation of commodity crops from the Global South into Europe. Similar regulations are at place in the United Kingdom and the United States. 

Environmental organizations working on nature conservation could also benefit from a better assessment of the drivers of deforestation that will allow them to prioritize their efforts, resources and action.

This tool can also be of great relevance to the entire scientific research community that is conducting studies on the causes and effects of small and large-scale deforestation. The availability of open and reusable data greatly enhances scientific collaboration in the pursuit of results.

Target Partner Organizations
OEMC Leading Partner
Get in touch!

Robert Masolele
Wageningen University and research

Type of output
Technology readiness level
TRL4 - Needs validation


Links of interest


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