TreeView, a project led by the OU to monitor and classify trees from space, has progressed to a new stage in its goal of supporting climate and nature recovery.
The project aims to provide data and insights into the UK treescape and those of other countries. In its preliminary stages, the small satellite mission is looking to monitor the health of trees in targeted areas, providing alerts and early warning of disease, climatic stress or pest infestation, and vital information on woodland expansion as part of nature recovery initiatives.
Following a positive review with partners, the second phase has now come to an end, allowing the team to progress with new aims, including opening market opportunities beyond Earth observation with new innovations and more rapid identification and action against threats to trees.
Monitoring tree health from space provides large area coverage without restrictions to access land or air space.
Today (7 April 2022) is World Health Day, and this year’s theme is focussing on ‘our planet, our health’. The World Health Organisation (WHO) will bring global attention to urgent actions needed to keep humans and the planet healthy.
WHO estimates that more than 13 million deaths around the world each year are due to avoidable environmental causes, including the climate crisis.
“Trees are a pillar of nature-based solutions to climate change and in turn are affected by the changing climate.
“We see that new means to monitor trees are essential to protect this valuable asset and track progress on net zero, biodiversity preservation, habitat restoration and other commitments.”
The OU is also progressing with its citizen science project, Treezilla: The Monster Map of Trees. Treezilla, led by Dr Philip Wheeler, Senior Lecturer in Ecology, is designed to get members of the public involved in mapping and measuring urban trees to improve our understanding of those planted across the UK and the Republic of Ireland.
Looking to the future of TreeView, Dr Endicott said:
“In terms of the next steps, we will be seeking funding to demonstrate the data analysis and processing pipeline to produce tree classification and health monitoring datasets for a target region of the UK.
“With further funding we’d look to progress the development of the payload (bespoke telescope with a cutting-edge detector and electronics), prepare test facilities, and continue our work on defining the mission in terms of operations and activities during its lifecycle.”
TreeView project is led by The Open University with nine partners from industry and government organisations; notably the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (UKCEH) and Forest Research are supporting the development with their expertise.