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Illegal Logging Detection and Prediction (ILDAP)

Uncovering illegal logging in the past, present, and future. Rapid response. Anticipate mitigating.

To start with some good news, a report from World Resources Institute states the rate of primary forest loss in Indonesia has continued to decline for five years in a row, in the case of 2021 decreasing 25% compared to the previous year. Indonesia has also recently signed a Rainforest Protection Pact in November 2022, together with rainforest nations Brazil and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Although it is stated that the pact is devoid of strategy, these actions are indeed promising for the global context.

Yet deforestation still occurs and the environmental, economic, and social costs of illegal logging, one of the main drivers of deforestation, are devastating, with an estimated annual value of around $150 billion. Moreseo, the existing solutions to monitor and detect illegal deforestation present users with shortcomings. Manual illegal logging detection is challenging, time intensive, and can be dangerous when faced with organised criminal groups. Existing automated, remote sensing projects and applications either lack accuracy or scalability while only reporting deforestation in hindsight. In particular, tropical forests require solutions that combine accuracy, affordability, frequency, and ultimately tools that can help stop illegal logging before its actual occurrence.

Figure 1. Area near Gunung Lumut where clear-cutting has occurred, most likely for oil palm production. East Kalimantan. Photo by Moses Ceaser/CIFOR. Source: Flikr.

Building on our earlier work on deforestation detection, we were awarded the European Space Agency (ESA) Feasibility Kickstarter for Environmental Crimes in 2020 to investigate how we can go beyond the current limitations of existing practises, covering the past, present and future! This is how “ILDAP” was born.

The ILDAP solution and technology

ILDAP stands for Illegal Logging Detection and Prediction. It is a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) application that detects illegal logging activities in tropical, mixed forest environments and anticipates possible future illegal logging instances.

The detection part of ILDAP builds upon our radar-based deforestation detection algorithm and is continuously improving through feedback loops with our clients and users. The prediction part originates from the analysis of patterns such as historical deforestation events, settlement developments, or road construction. The generated information is shared through reports, available through our web platform as well as alerts to ensure rapid action without delay.

To achieve all this we make good use of AI, GIS, and of course satellite earth observation. The main space assets used by ILDAP are from the Copernicus program, with Sentinel 1 and 2 as its core, and enriched with other geospatial and weather datasets.

ILDAP differentiates itself from other globally scalable illegal logging detection tools on several levels:

  1. Novel prediction capabilities,

  2. Increase in accuracy compared to current public services,

  3. Highly field-centric design with a seamless feedback loop between ground data integration and on-site validation,

  4. Focus on tropical, mixed agroforestry and forest environments and integration within contextual workflows of our respective clients,

  5. Rapid insights and fast processing due to the automated algorithm deployment, generating outcomes at high speed.

Figure 2. ILDAP Solution elements

The ultimate value of our solution lies in preventing or at best mitigating the unmanaged extraction of timber resources from protected and unprotected regions. Additionally, it can ensure the preservation of biodiversity, and carbon stocks, catering to the needs of land owners/managers our primary client group.

Current status

After the ESA Kickstarter project, we tested our ideas and baseline technology in Indonesia. We collected input from other organisations such as: Indonesia Corruption Watch, Winrock International, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and worked towards our proof-of-concept (PoC).

Next step: piloting our PoC to demonstrate its capabilities and get ready to offer it to our early adopters, namely land managers! What better place and partners than our long-term connections Masarang Foundation and Arsari Enviro Industri, who are leading nature conservation and agroforestry management organisations in Borneo, Indonesia.

What remained was the issue of capital for such a demonstration pilot lasting more than 18 months to collect sufficient learnings and evidence for ILDAP to be useful and valuable to our clients.

ESA Demonstration Project

Fortunately, the Netherlands Space Office (NSO) and ESA have been impressed by our progress since the Kickstart activity in 2020 and agree that ILDAP is needed more than ever. This is why they support the next piloting steps through the ESA ARTES 4.0 Downstream Applications Demonstration program.

During the pilot we will:

  • Finalise the development of the technical components which contemplates testing and validation on more than 250.000 ha.

  • Validate the business case of the earth-observation-driven deforestation detection and prediction,

With the goal of establishing ILDAP as a highly useful and commercially viable subscription service.

If you are a land manager, NGO, retail, or governmental organisation and interested in ILDAP, get in touch with us via or our website!

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