The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an association committed to promoting environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial, and economically viable management of the world’s forests. Using 10 guiding principles, FSC is the gold standard for certifying responsible forestry practices.
Many of the principles and criteria measured by FSC are assessed by satellite imagery. However, much of the work was still happening with pen and paper on printed maps. FSC wanted to combine this imagery with other data to aid in pre-audit evaluations to streamline and standardize the work that has to be done in the field. This would provide auditors with preparation and additional context for what they see in person.
Using the Blue Raster developed solution, auditors can select an their Audit Area from FSC's dataset of certified forest boundaries, upload a boundary file they have received, or draw a polygon directly on the map. The auditor also begins a digital workflow that details what aspects of the forest are being examined, what data will be used, and what reports and statistics need to be created.
Annual tree cover loss data from the University of Maryland is automatically pulled and overlaid on the image, allowing auditors to toggle between time periods to see if the change is in line with FSC principles. Users can also perform a basic change detection by selecting before and after images, calculating a vegetation index on both, and comparing the results to identify areas with loss or gain in vegetation. Reports are automatically populated for viewing on a dashboard or for printing.
The use of the solution expanded when the COVID pandemic limited travel and allowed auditors to continue evaluating areas remotely, creating temporary reports until they could physically get to the location. FSC is looking at ways to expand the functionality beyond auditor preparation. This system could be used to document chain of custody and detect fraud in the audit system by confirming that the harvested amount reported could have been harvested from a single location, ensuring that totals are not being laundered.
This GIS Portal is another great tool that helps the forest industry meet our current needs for forest products without compromising the health of the world’s forests for future generations.
Read about the FSC Dashboards here.