Airbus, TFT and SarVision announce Starling

Unprecedented accuracy for verifying Zero Deforestation commitments; New combination of optical and radar satellite technology in operation with Ferrero and Nestlé as pilot customers

Airbus Defence and Space, The Forest Trust (TFT) and SarVision have jointly developed a service enabling companies to provide evidence of how they are implementing their No Deforestation commitments. The service is called Starling and uses a combination of high-resolution optical satellite and radar imagery to provide unbiased monitoring of forest cover change. After 14 months of development Starling is now in operation with Ferrero and Nestlé as pilot customers and will be available to the market early 2017. It will be the first time a technology of this kind is made available to companies, from producers to global brands, to help them make the right decisions and meet the promises set out in their forest conservation policies.

“We believe Starling is revolutionary,” said Bastien Sachet, Chief Executive of global environmental and social non-profit TFT. “Not only does this service provide a level of accuracy never before seen, thanks to a combination of 1.5m SPOT images and cloud-independent radar data, it also goes beyond the traditional concept of ‘auditing’”.

Above: Staff from Airbus Defence and Space, SarVision and TFT explain how Starling will help companies to verify their No Deforestation commitments.

Until now, brands and producers could only rely on auditing houses to verify Zero Deforestation commitments. However, auditors can’t get the overall view of the situation: they can’t access all forest areas, and are only spending a limited number of days in the field. Imagery from space offers a powerful alternative, bringing extensive, impartial and cost-effective information in real time, including the ability to easily differentiate replanting from deforestation. It allows companies to manage their operations, make fully informed decisions and demonstrate to buyers and consumers that they are true to their commitment. Starling will be available to the market starting January 2017. In the meantime the service is being piloted with early adopters.

“Most companies strive to do the right thing, and the aim of Starling is to give them the true capacity to do so,” said Bernhard Brenner, Head of Intelligence Business Cluster at Airbus Defence and Space. “Our constellation of satellites offers them a reliable tool to track and verify their actions and better protect the world’s resources.”

The partnership between Airbus Defence and Space, TFT and radar remote sensing specialists SarVision began in 2015. Airbus Defence and Space is responsible for activating its satellites, pre-processing the imagery and distributing the service worldwide. TFT’s experience in land use planning and forestry and SarVision’s expertise in radar imagery analysis complement the design of the solution. Complex, expert satellite data is turned into information that can be directly used and understood by agro-industries.

Ferrero and Nestlé are piloting Starling to verify the responsible sourcing commitments they made for their palm oil supply chains.

radar-of-sabah
Above: Sabah, Malaysia. Left side shows untreated radar image, right side is land classification extracted from radar. ©SarVision 2016.
Below: North Sumatra, Indonesia. View from SPOT 6 satellite. 1.5m resolution accuracy means easily being able to tell the difference between industrial and smallholder plantations, types of vegetation, and even being able to count individual trees. ©AIRBUS DS 2014

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Find out more about Starling at www.intelligence-airbusds.com/starling

International media: Mark Sanderson /  Claire Adam
+44 (0)7825 285125 / +44(0)7769 181735
French media: Gregoire JACOB
+33 (0)608775657
communications@tft-earth.org

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