Nestlé, Unilever and PepsiCo are among the companies that have joined a coalition to fund the development of a new radar-based forest monitoring system to detect deforestation.
The world’s largest palm oil producers and buyers have joined forces to support the system known as Radar Alerts for Detecting Deforestation (RADD). It is currently being developed for Indonesia and Malaysia. Preliminary results indicate that RADD can detect tropical deforestation several weeks earlier than optical-based systems.
Developed by Wageningen University and Satelligence, and facilitated by World Resources Institute, the RADD system will augment existing monitoring tools that rely on optical-based satellite imagery, which can be delayed when clouds obstruct the view of forests.
The partnership between Bunge, Cargill, Golden Agri-Resources, Mondel?z International, Musim Mas, Nestlé, PepsiCo, Sime Darby Plantation, Unilever and Wilmar aims to make it easier for companies and other stakeholders to see deforestation happening in near real-time and with greater accuracy.
Through the use of radar waves, the system can penetrate cloud cover and gather forest change information without being affected by clouds or sunlight.
“We’re thrilled to see a major group of companies coming together in this way to create a collective change,” said Anne Rosenbarger, commodities manager, World Resources Institute.
“Uniting around this shared, cutting-edge monitoring system will allow for more efficient use of resources, create more streamlined conditions for companies to follow up and ultimately help prevent further deforestation.”
The open nature of the system will enable companies, governments, civil society organisations and concerned stakeholders to monitor forests using the same information source and standards.
“We are committed to developing a range of technologies that will enhance and accelerate our efforts to address potential issues within our supply chain. Better radar monitoring is an essential piece of this puzzle,” said Petra Meekers, head of sustainable sourcing, Unilever.
“We always aim to be the first to know and the first to act, so we are pleased to be supporting advanced tools that will make risks known to us even sooner.”