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Satellite analysis used to map the extent of deforestation by Australian cattle ranchers

Satellite images are increasingly being used to document changes on earth, including the presence and size of Uyghur Muslim detention camps in China and secret missile bases in Iran.

Satellite analysis was used in a survey by the Unearthed arm of Greenpeace to identify the extensive deforestation carried out by the cattle ranching industry in Australia.

Analyzing images from Sentinel Hub satellite data, Dr Martin Taylor of the University of Queensland identified 13,500 hectares of deforestation in his local state since 2018 – an area more than twice the size of Manhattan – across 57 cattle properties. of butchery.

READ: Space for good – how new satellite technology can help save the planet

This forest destruction has occurred despite Queensland passing new laws in 2018 to curb deforestation, as Unearthed said loopholes left some landowners with significant leeway to continue large-scale clearings, including in areas classified as likely habitats for threatened species.

Brazilian meat giant JBS, the world’s largest meat processor with significant operations in the region, could not rule out whether some of its meat came from the identified properties.

Unearthed said UK buyers could soon buy meat linked to deforestation from Australia, as meat exports are a major part of the trade deal currently being negotiated with the UK, based on the agreement signed in June which included increasing duty-free beef quotas for Australia over the next decade, and where UK ministers quietly abandonment of commitments on climate change British requirements.

Satellite analysis for Unearthed was performed by Dr. Taylor using Sentinel Playground, a free Sentinel Hub web application that uses technology from the platform to enable easy discovery and exploration of Sentinel-1, Sentinel-2, Landsat 8, DEM and MODIS in full resolution. imagery.

The GUI creates a massive resource for anyone interested in analyzing natural or human-induced changes to the Earth’s surface.

It is part of a trend of increasingly broad uses of satellite imagery, from non-profit organizations to investigative journalists.

Spire Global Inc (NYSE:SPIR), for example, uses its constellation of more than 100 small CubeSats to observe data and predict environmental change and also provide maritime tracking services, while Planet Labs Inc and Iceye Oy both provide change detection services where their collection of satellites are used to photograph every inch of the Earth’s surface and enable fine-grained comparisons.

Planet’s technology has been used to document the existence and size of Uyghur Muslim detention camps in China, a secret missile base in Iran, and illegal deforestation in the Amazon.