Sylvera, a London-based SME, has signed up to the national SPRINT business support programme to validate a new methodology for the long-term measurement and monitoring of carbon stocks in forest above-ground biomass using Earth observation data. Sylvera will collaborate with the University of Leicester to produce a published methodology that will enable accurate measurement of carbon offset performance and bring transparency to nature-based carbon offsets projects.
The Sylvera methodology will use software processing of Earth observation data to give objectivity, transparency and high-quality quantitative measures of carbon sequestered in forest offset projects. This will be the first time that any evaluation methodology will have been made accessible that fully meets the needs of voluntary carbon market participants. Effective, published quantification methodologies are required to instil trust in both enterprise and retail buyers of offsets, and to allow banks and other financial entities to deploy the capital necessary for these projects to be developed at scale.
The University of Leicester will provide expertise in satellite data pre-processing, forest above ground biomass (AGB) retrieval, machine learning model training and data selection, knowledge of systematic and random errors in training and validation data, and AGB/carbon conversion using allometry.
The project will be funded by a grant from the £4.8 million SPRINT (SPace Research and Innovation Network for Technology) programme that provides unprecedented access to university space expertise and facilities. SPRINT helps businesses through the commercial exploitation of space data and technologies.
Allister Furey, Co-Founder and CEO of Sylvera said: “The Paris Agreement has established clear guidance on carbon offsets and so the challenge has been set for global industries to de-carbonise. With reporting of emissions reductions, there is no accurate, objective and timely way of validating and trust is a real issue for offset measurements. Therefore, we’re committed to helping organisations in the voluntary offset market to transparently monitor biomass in forestry projects.
“A published methodology will increase confidence in an offsets estimates framework going forward, taking into account possible changes in data sources and how they might impact estimates. Through SPRINT, we’ll be investigating a transparent way of validating the data, working with the team from the University of Leicester whose domain knowledge is world-class and will bring credibility to our published methodology.”
Heiko Balzter, Professor of Physical Geography/ Director of the Centre for Landscape and Climate Research at the University of Leicester added: “To the SPRINT project, we bring expertise and experience in forest bioimaging and change detection from projects in Colombia, Mexico, Kenya and the UK. The challenge for Sylvera is to quantify the uncertainty of estimates and establish confidence in the true value of biomass. We will help to achieve this by focusing on retrieval methods from satellite remote sensing to deliver multispectral data for the best possible accuracy.
“By using the latest machine learning techniques on the forest biomass information, we can train a model based on field data and apply this trained model to new satellite data. This will enable Sylvera to successfully reach its aims and make a contribution to realising the goals of Paris Agreement.”