Planet data provide fuel for Canadian boreal forestry research as the Planet E&R program hits its five-year anniversary

The boreal forest is one of the largest intact ecosystems left on the planet; however, there are a growing number of man-made environmental changes affecting this vast ecosystem. Numerous integrated research programs focused on boreal forests in Canada have teamed up to use advanced satellite data available from Planet to document how past, present, and future changes alter the ability of boreal forests to sustain biodiversity and the people who call it ecosystem home. . Through the Planet Education and Research program, the University of Alberta, Yukon University, and the University of Calgary now use Planet data to map, monitor, and model the dynamics of the Canadian boreal forest.

Map of Canada’s boreal forests. Data sources: Natural Earth, University of Maryland, Natural Resources Canada. Map by Leanne Abraham.

[Draft]”Biodiversity in the boreal region faces new challenges due to growing industries and climate change, but the planet’s high cadence satellite images help us assess the changing ecosystem dynamics of the region and support data-informed decision-making in Canada,” said Dr. Erin Bayne, PI for the Boreal Avian Modeling Project. “A network of research initiatives is now leveraging the Planet’s data to evaluate bird populations, vegetation dynamics and industrial disturbances. These data will then help us model sustainable interventions to put these forests on an appropriate recovery path.”

These interconnected projects support a comprehensive scientific understanding of this ecosystem using Planet data:

  • The Boreal Avian Modeling Project (BAM) at the University of Alberta is a collaborative project involved in new research evaluating how the effects of extractive industries, agricultural transformation, and climate change affect boreal birds. BAM combines historical point-count surveys, digital bird song recordings, and satellite data, including PlanetScope, to determine the size of boreal bird populations. BAM uses this information in models to quantify the effects of land use and climate change on past, present and future bird populations.
  • BAM informs Boreal Ecosystem Analysis for Conservation Networks (BEACONs) at Yukon University. Hydrological and terrestrial connectivity, natural disturbance regimes, and species dynamics are all analyzed to identify ecological benchmarks that serve as reference areas for understanding the impact of human activity on boreal ecosystems. Using planetary data, BEACONs are able to document the temporal and spatial scale of natural and human disturbances and support discussions with local stakeholders on proactive planning to maintain the full range of cultural, environmental and economic values ​​of boreal systems.
  • The Boreal Ecosystem Recovery and Assessment (BERA), led by the University of Calgary, is a multisectoral research partnership aimed at understanding the effects of industrial disturbance, such as resource extraction, on natural ecosystems and developing strategies for restoring landscapes affected by climate change. BERA utilizes Planet data, combined with other high-resolution remote sensing products such as LiDAR, to perform large-scale assessments of the state of natural recovery and the effectiveness of human intervention in the event of such disturbances.
  • BAM, BEACONS and BERA are working to address the growing number of challenges facing biodiversity in the boreal forest. To effectively share their research to ease the impact on politics and society, they have created online data products and decision support tools, including those offered by the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute (ABMI) at the University of Alberta.

At Planet, we believe that you can not do what you can not measure. The protection of the Earth’s critical biodiversity requires innovative programs such as BAM, BEACONS, BERA and ABMI, which conduct new research by measuring, monitoring and modeling dynamic ecosystem conditions in the boreal forest. We are excited to provide our daily satellite datasets to scientists working to protect vital ecosystems, ”said Planet Director of Science Programs Joe Mascaro.

This new collaboration comes as Planet’s education and research program celebrates its five-year anniversary. Launched on Earth Day (April 22, 2017), our E&R program was designed to enable students, researchers, and professors, affiliated with accredited universities, to access our unique satellite dataset. With this access, participants can review, download and analyze the Planet’s archive of remote sensing data and publish key results.

The program has grown over the past five years, and to date, the number of universities purchasing Planet’s educational and research site licenses for scientific applications has reached 80 schools in 16 countries, including Yamaguchi University in Japan, MIT, and Arizona State University in the United States. and Stockholm University in Sweden. Including Planet’s training and research program, their NICFI Satellite Data Program, the company’s recent acquisition of VanderSat and their partnerships with NASA and DLR, Planet’s data has now contributed to> 1,800 academic publications since 2016.

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