Forests worldwide are the habitat for the majority of amphibian, bird, and mammal species. They are also home to 300 million people and provide livelihood for another 1.6 billion. Benefits delivered by this ecosystem – in the form of hydrological regulation, erosion prevention, and carbon storage, among others – amount to over €100 trillion per year, more than the whole global GDP.
Despite being highly resilient to long-term changes in environmental conditions, forests are vulnerable to sudden changes, such as insect outbreaks, wildfires, and windthrow, i.e. the uprooting of a tree caused by the wind. Those risks are intensified by climate change: insects breed more frequently, more dry fuel for wildfires becomes available, and the frequency and severity for large storms increase. As a result, countless habitats are lost, and CO2 sequestered yearly decreases by over 4850M tons.
However, with early and appropriate action, risks can be contained, and the economic and ecological damage can be reduced. That is the goal of the SWIFTT consortium, composed of Wildsense (FR), Space Research Institute (UA), University of Bari Aldo Moro (IT), Leibniz Universität Hannover (DE), Timbtrack (BE), Fürstliches Forstamt Bückeburg (DE), Groupe Coopération Forestière (FR), Rigas Mezi (LV), and Da Vinci Labs (FR).
SWIFTT will provide forest managers with affordable, simple and effective remote sensing tools backed up by powerful machine learning models. Our solution will offer a holistic health monitoring service using Copernicus satellite imagery to detect and map the various risks to which forests and their managers are exposed.
SWIFTT will be tested in real conditions by several end-users from the forest industry, which include Fürstliches Forstamt Bückeburg, which manages around 3,900 hectares of forests across Germany; the Groupe Coopération Forestière, which has as members forestry cooperatives managing 2,1 million hectares of private forest; and Rigas Mezi, which manages forest properties, parks and gardens owned by the city of Riga, Latvia’s capital. The consortium anticipates monitoring and protecting up to 39,6M hectares of global forests by 2030, saving foresters over €468M in monitoring costs and creating over 50 direct jobs.
Once completed, SWIFTT’s maps detailing areas of windthrow damage, insect outbreaks, and fire risk will enable forest managers to act proactively and allocate resources efficiently for a timely intervention. With SWIFTT’s sustainable, effective, and low-cost forest management tools, Europe will be better positioned to combat climate change and preserve its biodiversity through healthier forests.
The project has been awarded a highly competitive grant in the Horizon Europe funding programme, being one of 7 projects selected in the topic 'EGNSS & Copernicus applications fostering the European Green Deal' managed by EUSPA.
The partners will receive a cumulative €2.8M grant from the EUSPA/European Commission over the next three years.