Satellite imagery, artificial intelligence, and open data will help to fight illegal logging in Ukraine

Coalition of organizations The Space Research Institute NASU-SSA, Authorities Monitoring Center and ForestCom NGOs are developing the deforestation alert and Illegal logging system called Deep Green Ukraine.

Every year more than 20 million m3 of wood is cut down in Ukrainian forests. Some scientists and NGOs argue that five to ten percent or even significantly over of such logging is illegal. The system Deep Green Ukraine is an IT-based service that will allow its users to detect potential illegal and monitor planned forest logging.

“We have a big problem with both illegal and legal logging. There are huge differences in statistics, the losses to the state each year amount to millions of hryvnias. First of all, because there are not enough tools to say where and how many forests have disappeared. Satellites are the leading way to monitor changes in forest cover, because they have a large coverage area and a high frequency of removal, which allows you to update information on all forests every week,”said Leo Shumilo, one of the system’s developers, junior researcher SRI NASU-SSAU.

How will the system work? Watch the video (with English subtitles): 

The system intends to analyze satellite data on forest cover changes and compare it with open data published by public institutions (e.g. state land use and ownership maps, forest maps, logging tickets, etc.). The service will reflect, near real-time, deforestation changes indicating how many forests disappeared from the forest map of Ukraine, when and where it happened, and whether there are appropriate government permits (logging tickets) for felling.

“In our opinion, Deep Green Ukraine System can influence the problem of illegal logging in Ukraine. The system will make it easy for people and forest guards to see what is going on – and then take the actions. However, this will be possible only if the forest owners will be publishing information about their logging permits in a timely manner,” said Dmytro Karabchuk, one of the system’s developers, head of the ForestCom NGO.

In December 2020, the system was started to test in the Kyiv region. It is planned that Deep Green Ukraine will be fully operational in early summer 2021 in four pilot regions: Kyiv, Lviv, Zakarpattia and Odessa. Once launched, the online system is planned to be transferred to the balance of the relevant government agencies to provide administration and technical support.

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