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Scots university in £14m deal

Space consortium to monitor tropical forest

Software and data company Ecometrica has won a £14 million contract from the UK Space Agency’s recently launched International Partnership Programme (IPP).

The ‘Forests 2020’ project will help countries improve the management and protection of 300 million hectares of tropical forests.

Ecometrica will lead an international consortium that brings together many of the world’s leading experts on forest monitoring.

The deal, which closely matches the IPP’s technology and development goals, is the largest so far to come from the £150m UK Space Agency programme, and follows a competitive tender process. 

Launched earlier in 2016, the IPP brings together British space knowledge, expertise and capability to “provide a sustainable, economic or societal benefit to undeveloped nations and developing economies”.

As part of the project, Ecometrica will sub-contract experts from the University of Edinburgh, the University of Leicester, and fellow Edinburgh company Carbomap, a specialist in LiDAR forest mapping.

The project will also see Ecometrica bring together various partners in Brazil, Colombia, Ghana, Indonesia, Kenya and Mexico, where Earth Observation laboratories will be set up to assess threats to rainforests and help direct conservation resources. The project is due to complete in March 2020.

Ray Fielding, head of the international partnership programme at the UK Space Agency, said: “The programme will identify innovative ways that space technology can help in this important area, which has been identified by the UN as key for sustainable development, and we intend to make a real difference to the people on the ground working to preserve the world’s forests.”

Dr Richard Tipper, executive chairman of Ecometrica, said: “This will help to establish Ecometrica as a leading international provider of digital infrastructure for earth observation services.”

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