Airbus, together with non-profit organization The Forest Trust (TFT) and radar satellite imagery expert SarVision, have launched Starling, an innovative satellite service enabling companies to demonstrate how they are implementing their ‘No Deforestation’ commitments.
The commercial launch follows a successful six-month pilot phase in Ferrero and Nestlé’s palm oil supply chains, during which Starling has underlined its ability for unbiased monitoring of large areas on a regular basis, all the while detecting and identifying forest cover changes with the utmost of accuracy. A webinar will be hosted on June 29 to show how Starling is supporting the genuine transformation of the palm oil industry by using an advanced combination of optical and radar satellite technology.
Over the past year, the number of companies making commitments to cut deforestation in their operations has risen by 22 percent to 447. Until now, verifying progress of these commitments has been challenging, with brands and producers relying on ground-based checks by auditing firms which are ultimately limited in the amount of land they can cover and how they can monitor change. With commercial agriculture for palm, soy, cattle, timber and pulp responsible for at least two-thirds of global tropical deforestation, companies making forestry conservation pledges have been asking for a reliable verification tool to prove their commitments are working.
Starling provides unprecedented accuracy because of a combination of 1.5 meter SPOT images and radar that cuts through cloud cover, allowing year-round monitoring. This accuracy also means that Starling can easily differentiate between crop types and between replanting and deforestation. It provides and promotes transparency, allowing companies to demonstrate their commitments as well as manage their operations, reward best practice and contribute to the transformation of the wider palm oil industry.
Aldo Cristiano, the Director of Global Procurement Raw Materials and Group Sustainability for Ferrero, noted that the company is committed to finding innovative solutions able to support their efforts towards a more sustainable development. With this in mind, and building on the firm's achievement of 100 percent traceability of their palm oil supply to mill and 98.5 percent to plantation, Ferrero started piloting the Starling service over a few selected plantations. The first results are quite positive and this could be the start of a successful journey in verifying the implementation of the company's No Deforestation policy.
Pierre-Alexandre Teulié, Head of Corporate Communications, Public Affairs, e-Business and CSR at Nestlé France, added that Nestlé is engaged in zero deforestation by 2020 for all its supply chain. Today, even if 91 percent of the firm's palm oil supply could be traced back to the mill, only 57 percent meets the company's group's sustainability commitments. To accelerate the verification and the commitment of Nestlé suppliers, Starling will allow real time measurement and monitoring of the firm's impact on forest preservation.
François Lombard, Head of the Intelligence Business Cluster at Airbus Defence and Space, stated that the pilot phase, and especially the satisfaction of the company's customers, once again confirms Airbus' cutting-edge expertise in the forestry domain, relying on the land cover analysis tool and the unique capabilities of the company's SPOT satellites.