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The Crisis of Fertile Land Degradation

Remote sensing models and maps for Hommes Et Terre land restoration sites

In every region of the world, fertile land loss is growing at an alarming rate, and according to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is affecting more than 3 billion people worldwide. With the degradation of fertile land, there is widespread loss of biodiversity and destruction of ecosystems, not to mention increased climate and food insecurity. Hommes Et Terre, founded in 2017, focuses on restoring the degradation of land plots and providing sustainable access to fertile land while achieving several UN Sustainable Development Goals. Hommes Et Terre collaborates with local communities to carry out developing forests sustainably and ensure resilient system maintenance and to also ensure communities have sustainable access to fertile land.


Space4Good and Hommes Et Terre connected in September 2018. Subsequent to this, in 2022, Space4Good’s advancement in nature-based solutions (NbS), agroforestry monitoring and conservation work showed direct applicability to Hommes Et Terre's planning and required insights. The possibility of using remote sensing data to monitor the vegetation health status in some Hommes Et Terre sites was clear and collaboration emerged.


Figure 1: Area Of Interest.


As a result, Hommes Et Terre requested a solution to assess tree growth and detect differences over time at a collection of sites in Burkina Faso, Africa (figure 1). The mission? To gain more targeted and efficient planning insights from space both for in-situ management as well as for improved policy-making planning, such as replanting operations, water management, etc.. Space4Good was delighted to facilitate this mission and the resultant agroforestry and ecosystem restoration projects implementation.


To provide the requested insights, Space4Good assessed vegetation indices using satellite imagery (Sentinel 1 & 2), revealing the state of vegetation health. From there, Space4Good developed a methodology leveraging Geographic Information System (GIS) and Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) techniques using plot sample sets, relevant vegetation indices and statistics that are altogether complementary to the existing Homme et Terre monitoring methods. For each plot, we classified the fields using a pixel-based approach. The resulting satellite-based vegetation indices and their statistics (max and min value, trend lines, different percentiles) can help identify the best-performing areas when mapping afforestation efforts as well as the actual and potential limitations during the restoration process.

Figure 2: Restoration quality example.

You can see Space4Good’s final output analysis in the figure above (figure 2), which was calculated on a pixel-based approach and classified into three classes (good, medium, and bad). Space4Good ran various statistics (max and min values, trend lines, different percentiles) to study their correlations. The most representative index was the Normalised Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI).


This concept validation proves how impactful large-scale remote sensing can be for areas vulnerable to accessibility issues. Space4Good’s methodology will continually be refined to better estimate area restoration quality, above-ground biomass growth, and vegetation coverage. The satellite-based vegetation indices and statistics will help identify the best-performing areas for afforestation efforts. Thank you to all involved, particularly Hommes Et Terre, and their work towards improving land restoration efforts. We are delighted to assist these efforts by providing remote sensing and artificial intelligence solutions and excited to continue making a positive impact for a better planet together.


Would you like more information, or are you interested in collaborating with Space4Good? Visit our website or contact us via hello@space4good.com.

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