Palm oil industry to jointly develop radar monitoring tech to detect deforestation

USA – A coalition of ten major palm oil producers and buyers are collaborating to support and fund the development of a new, publicly available radar-based forest monitoring system known as Radar Alerts for Detecting Deforestation (RADD).

This partnership brings together world’s largest palm oil producers and buyers, including Bunge, Cargill, Golden Agri-Resources (GAR), Mondelēz International, Musim Mas, Nestlé, Pepsico, Sime Darby Plantation, Unilever and Wilmar.

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The radar-based forest monitoring system will make it much easier for the companies and other stakeholders to monitor deforestation in near-real-time and with greater accuracy.

The information generated will enable the companies to more quickly mobilize follow-up actions on the ground and work to improve the sustainability of commodity supply chains.

Dr Gotz Martin, Head of Sustainability Implementation, GAR noted, “this pioneering initiative will support and boost our efforts in working towards full traceability to the plantation.”

The RADD system is currently being developed for Indonesia and Malaysia. Preliminary results for Indonesia and Malaysia indicate that the new RADD system can detect tropical deforestation several weeks earlier than optical-based systems.

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Developed by Wageningen University and Satelligence, and facilitated by World Resources Institute, the RADD system will augment existing publicly available monitoring tools that rely on optical-based satellite imagery, which can be delayed when clouds obstruct the view of forests.

Through the use of radar waves, the new system can penetrate cloud cover and gather forest change information without being affected by clouds or sunlight.

Throughout the RADD system development over the next two years, partner companies will receive alerts about detected deforestation events and will provide crucial feedback to improve the system.

The open nature of the system will enable companies  as well as governments, civil society organizations and concerned stakeholders – to monitor forests using the same information source and standards.

We are delighted about RADD’s introduction to the palm oil sector and look forward to developing credible, real-time data that is publicly accessible to enhance our ability to act on deforestation alerts.” said John Hartmann, Agriculture Supply Chain Sustainability Lead, Cargill.

Benjamin Ware, Global Head of Responsible Sourcing, Nestlé added; “We are pleased to support the development of publicly available forest monitoring system like RADD as it will bring accountability and transparency across the industry.”

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