business applications

Peat Spotter - Peat Spotter Feasibility Study

Peat Spotter was conceived by Rezatec Ltd. as a potential data service to provide cost-effective information for sustainable peatland management.  Our intent is that Peat Spotter will reduce the amount of expensive field work required to gather information on peatland location, intactness and carbon content over time. 

Peatlands across the world are of special interest because they constitute the largest terrestrial reservoir of global carbon.  In the particular case of tropical peatlands, these ecosystems have recently gone from being relatively untouched to a heavily exploited resource, and this has resulted in large carbon emissions, frequent and uncontrollable fires, and the loss of valuable landscapes.

The Peat Spotter Feasibility Study (FS) was carried out over a period of 9 months from January to September 2014.  During the FS we tested three main areas of service feasibility: 

  1. The technical feasibility of identifying the locations, depth and intactness of peat, primarily using satellite-derived Earth Observation (EO) data and supported by ground-based data, accurately geo-referenced using Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), for validation and calibration;
  2. The commercial feasibility of building the Peat Spotter service;
  3. The feasibility of building a service that is repeatable, scalable and can be deployed with minimal iterations required during its lifecycle.

Users and their needs

Peat Spotter has the following key user groups:

  1. Commercial plantations built on land with high ecological value, seeking or being required to sell carbon credits as an asset for a proportion of their overall land areas;
  2. Peatland conservation initiatives using financial instruments such as Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) or Eco services bond structures;
  3. Water utilities in the UK and other temperate countries, especially those with significant peatland areas within their catchments;
  4. Consumer Goods companies undertaking Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives;
  5. The global land carbon credit trading voluntary marketplace.

The key needs for most peatland stakeholders, including water companies, commercial foresters, consumer goods companies and NGOs is information on the location and extent of peatlands.  For example, in temperate landscapes, the obvious peat areas have been delineated, but a finer scale classification is lacking and therefore appropriate management is not applied.

Additionally, the greatest value of peatlands arise when they are intact.  The ability to identify relatively intact peatlands therefore provides additional incentives for regulators and commercial entities to conserve these areas using recognised revenue streams in the form of payments for ecosystem services or similar economic structures.

A clear voice that came from the FS was for Rezatec to actively support the customer through the full knowledge-building process, rather than just to supply the data.   Therefore, it became clear that Peat Spotter was not purely a data service as we had first envisioned, but instead needed to be a more integrated ‘front-to-back’ service.  We therefore found that we needed to design the end-to-end (E2E) Peat Spotter service and its supporting architecture as a set of consultancy and operational services combined with supporting data, tools and technologies.

Service/ system concept

Peat Spotter will provide user access to processed data through the Rezatec software platform.  The platform has been designed to enable the scaling of ground data across ecosystems, biomes and other areas of interest.  

Space Added Value

Peat Spotter is deployed using the Rezatec platform and integrates the following three space assets:

  • Earth Observation (EO) data, to cost-effectively scale measurements of peat extent, depth and intactness over wide and potentially remote areas that are otherwise expensive to measure or inaccessible from the ground;
  • Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) devices for accurate geo-referencing of the ground data used for calibration of the EO-based signatures; and
  • Satellite Communications (Satcom), to collect and send ground data from remote locations for time-efficient centralised calibration of the EO-based signatures. 

Product Benefits

The main benefits that were identified through the Peat Spotter FS stakeholder analysis are:

  • Reduction in the cost of mapping peatlands, by reducing the resources required for undertaking them, i.e. time, expertise, equipment needed for ground-data collection;
  • Providing access to a more rapid, accurate, and thus trusted and reliable set of data on peatland location and carbon content;
  • (for Carbon Projects) A lower cost of generating carbon credits and thus an increase in the net profit that could be accrued;
  • Reduction in the cost of monitoring peatlands over time, and specifically for monitoring the progress of activities such as restoration, for which funding is lacking; and
  • The value associated with the risk of not having information on where peatlands are and their respective ‘intactness’ mainly relating to private sector brand and reputational risk, which has a direct impact on shareholder and market behaviours.
  • Providing data for new developments to prevent certain peatland areas from being illegally converted into another land use, e.g. oil palm plantation, or to assist conservation and CSR planning activities to optimise their land management activities;
  • Improving the accuracy of GHG emissions calculations for various land use activities – at present, peat assets are included in the measurement of the GHG balance of an oil palm plantation, but quantified using a relatively generic and inaccurate calculation. 

Product Features

Peat Spotter is deployed using the Rezatec data platform and integrates the following three components:

  • Earth Observation (EO) data, to cost-effectively scale measurements of peat extent, depth and intactness over wide and potentially remote areas that are otherwise expensive to measure or inaccessible from the ground;
  • Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) devices for accurate geo-referencing of the ground data used for calibration of the EO-based signatures;
  • Satellite Communications (Satcom), to collect and send ground data for time-efficient centralized calibration of the EO-based signatures.

EO images are sourced from a variety of satellite providers, according to the attributes required. 

Ground data, ranging from peat depth measurements and substrate bulk density, to vegetation composition and canopy openness, and from spot measurements to on-going monitoring via satellite-transmitted data, are collected in order to calibrate the EO images and to assess what minimum field data are required to accurately model key properties of peatlands. 

During the FS, field work was performed by Efeca, a project partner with vast experience working in the tropics of Southeast Asia on sustainability-themed projects, and involved close collaborations with local host organisations. Proof of concept for field tools and data collection methods were carried out on conservation peatlands in Indonesia in March-April 2014, coinciding with a suitable climatic window in the region.

Key Issues

The key issue that arises for most peatland stakeholders, including water companies, commercial foresters, consumer goods companies and NGOs is information on the location and extent of peatlands.  For example, in temperate landscapes, the obvious peat areas have been delineated, but a finer scale classification is lacking and therefore appropriate management is not applied.

Additionally, the greatest value of peatlands arise when they are intact.  The ability to identify relatively intact peatlands therefore provides additional incentives for regulators and commercial entities to conserve these areas using recognised revenue streams in the form of payments for ecosystem services or similar economic structures.

A clear voice that came from the FS was for Rezatec to actively support the customer through the full knowledge-building process, rather than just to supply the data.   Therefore, it became clear that Peat Spotter was not purely a data service as we had first envisioned, but instead needed to be a more integrated ‘front-to-back’ service.  We therefore found that we needed to design the end-to-end (E2E) Peat Spotter service and its supporting architecture as a set of consultancy and operational services combined with supporting data, tools and technologies.

Current Status

At time of writing (October 2014), we have completed the FS and are entering the DP proposal stage.  During the DP we will define, build, brand and market a suite of common tools and services that can be applied across a range of target markets, not just the tropical peat market.  In addition, following our key discovery that the general requirement is more on integrated land use, of which peat is just one component, our focus will be expanded to include a broader landscape management tool that goes well beyond the original peat community.  This extended capability comes under the new heading of M3i, a service that will offer a Map, Measure, and Monitor information portal designed to satisfy entire Landscape of Interest (LoI) information needs.

Prime Contractor

Subcontractor

Efeca

United Kingdom

http://www.efeca.com

Project Managers

Contractor Project Manager

Fraser Harper
Rezatec Limited
Electron Building Fermi Avenue
Harwell Didcot
Oxfordshire
OX11 0QR
United Kingdom
+44 (0) 1235 567 395

ESA Project Manager

César Bastón Canosa
ESTEC
Keplerlaan 1, P.O. Box 299
2200 AG Noordwijk
Netherlands
+31 (0) 71 56 56479

Status Date

Updated: 07 July 2015 - Created: 01 July 2014