EU to Use Satellites to Track Forest Destruction as Region Warms

(Bloomberg) -- The European Union will use satellites to help prevent the destruction of its forests as they become increasingly vital to soaking up carbon dioxide in the fight against climate change.

The European Commission, the bloc’s executive branch, on Wednesday plans to propose establishing a forest-monitoring system using aerial information from its Copernicus Sentinel satellites and other data sources, according to a draft document seen by Bloomberg News. Member states will be encouraged to develop forest plans covering the next 50 years, it added.

The satellites are expected to help fill gaps in data-gathering, such as measuring the impact of drought or damage by pests, such as the bark beetle.

Forests and peatlands provide a natural sponge to absorb millions of tons of atmospheric CO2, both from man-made sources and wildfires as global warming worsens. Protection of these natural resources is a key element of the EU’s plans to reach net-zero emissions by the middle of the century.