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Why Forests Are Key to Solving Global Challenges Like Climate Change

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Why Forests Are Key to Solving Global Challenges Like Climate Change

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Humanity is facing great challenges in the coming decades as global issues are becoming increasingly complex and interconnected. As information and knowledge across all these domains continue to grow, finding the best solutions to ensure a sustainable future will require new approaches. Collaboration across a large ecosystem will also be key: industry, policy makers, academia, research, developers and the interested public.

Deforestation is a major driver of many of these challenges, including:

-Climate change
-Hunger and lack of food security
-Rise in natural disasters and extreme weather
-Refugee crisis
-Rise in crime
-Spread of disease
-Increasing pollution
-Drought and lack of access to safe water
-Poverty

As a result, conservation of remaining forests and reforestation are key to addressing these challenges. Technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and the internet of things (IoT) can help with these goals. They are uniquely adapted to tasks such as safe monitoring in remote areas, finding patterns and interconnections within macro datasets and providing local, personalized diagnosis and predictions that learn and improve over time.

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Note, I completed this research several years ago but have only now gotten around to publishing it. Even though several of the source citations are old, I believe the core insights presented still hold true today, if not more so.

Humanity is facing great challenges in the coming decades as global issues are becoming increasingly complex and interconnected. As information and knowledge across all these domains continue to grow, finding the best solutions to ensure a sustainable future will require new approaches. Collaboration across a large ecosystem will also be key: industry, policy makers, academia, research, developers and the interested public.

Deforestation is a major driver of many of these challenges, including:

-Climate change
-Hunger and lack of food security
-Rise in natural disasters and extreme weather
-Refugee crisis
-Rise in crime
-Spread of disease
-Increasing pollution
-Drought and lack of access to safe water
-Poverty

As a result, conservation of remaining forests and reforestation are key to addressing these challenges. Technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and the internet of things (IoT) can help with these goals. They are uniquely adapted to tasks such as safe monitoring in remote areas, finding patterns and interconnections within macro datasets and providing local, personalized diagnosis and predictions that learn and improve over time.

---------------
Note, I completed this research several years ago but have only now gotten around to publishing it. Even though several of the source citations are old, I believe the core insights presented still hold true today, if not more so.

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Why Forests Are Key to Solving Global Challenges Like Climate Change

  1. 1. Why Forests Are Key to Solving Global Challenges Like Climate Change And how technology can help Julie Yamamoto
  2. 2. 2 Humanity is facing great challenges in the coming decades as global issues are becoming increasingly complex and interconnected. As information and knowledge across all these domains continue to grow, finding the best solutions to ensure a sustainable future will require new approaches. Collaboration across a large ecosystem will also be key: industry, policy makers, academia, research, developers and the interested public. Technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) are uniquely adapted to helping with these challenges, from finding patterns and interconnections within macro datasets to providing local, personalized diagnosis and predictions that learn and improve over time.
  3. 3. • Climate induced food crisis • Hunger and lack of food security • Rise in natural disasters and extreme weather • Refugee crisis • Rise in crime • Spread of disease • Increasing pollution • Drought and lack of access to safe water The world our grandchildren may inherit:1 77% of countries could be poorer by 2100 – The Guardian
  4. 4. 4 Land-use change is a driving force Human-induced land-use changes are having a strong impact on natural resources. Over the last decade, demand for internationally traded food, feed and fuel products has led to over 50% of deforestation and 60% of forest degradation in tropical and subtropical countries.1 Near-term local impacts of deforestation may include soil erosion and land degradation2, but long-term impacts are more significant and widespread. Deforestation is said to account for up to one-fifth of global GHG emissions directly3 with consequences such as increased risk of natural disasters, desertification, compromised crop productions, decreased biodiversity, increased health risks, and economic impacts.4 Conservation and reforestation can affect this trend in reverse as forests act as a major carbon sink in their natural state - it's estimated that one hectare of forest can absorb 10-20 tons of carbon dioxide (or 4-8 tons per acre) per year. There is growing support for conserving and increasing tree canopy at local and global levels as evidenced by initiatives such as urban forestation, the UN SDGs and UN-REDD, REDD+, and the Bonn Challenge.
  5. 5. 5 Forests are key to mitigation Food Security 50% of all fruit consumed by humans comes from trees1 Soil fertility, critical for crop production, is enhanced by nitrogen-fixing forests1 80% of dietary items for developed world derived from rainforests2 Water 75% of all fresh water on the planet comes from forests3 36.5k gallons of water / yr can be captured and filtered by one large tree4 25k gallons increase in water storage capacity per acre for every 1% increase in soil carbon5 Disease Rise in vector-borne disease being driven by rapid deforestation6 70% of plants identified as being active against cancer cells come from rainforests2 25% of prescription medicines comes from 10% of the known rainforest plants7
  6. 6. Health 800k tons of air pollution removed annually by US urban forests1 50% reduction in indoor air pollution2 50% reduction in noise pollution1 50% reduction in UV-B exposure3 $7B health cost avoidance annually4 Economic 12% Increase in property values1 High tree canopy coverage associated with higher incomes, test scores, and graduation rates1,2 $1.89 in benefits for every $1 invested in CA urban forest5 $162k of value generated by a tree over 50 years6 Safety Rise in crime as tree cover declines7 56% fewer violent crimes in public housing with higher tree cover8 $3.5B saved each year in disaster damage9 Urban forests - another key mitigator
  7. 7. HOW TECHNOLOGY CAN HELP Use cases
  8. 8. Business Case – Market drivers & opportunities Carbon Offset SaaS • Carbon offset market grew 10% in 20151 • Drivers/challenges: • UN SDGs and increasing regulations • Carbon pricing fluctuations2, • Accurate/transparent linkage of global market offsets to physical forest conservation 3 • Accurate measurement of carbon sink valuation by location/health/species, etc. Environmental Sensing/Monitoring Technologies • Global market at $25.8B by 2022 with AP at CAGR of 11.4%4 • Soil + air comprise nearly 60% of market5 • Drivers/challenges: • Emergence of industrial growth in AP economies • Increasing pollution and regulations • Decreasing cost of sensing technologies • Accurate monitoring of land-use and reclamation Environmental Remediation • Global tech market at $123B by 2022 at CAGR of 7.62%6 • US Environmental Industry (all segments) at $354B in 20147 • Drivers/challenges: • Large demand from oil & gas and mining for soil and groundwater remediation7 • APAC = fastest growing market7 • Technological advances and innovations8,9 • Flexible production vs regulatory changes9
  9. 9. Forest types & Use Cases Rainforest Conservation Biodiversity Carbon sink Land-use mgmt Economic value Ecosystem modeling Supply chain Tropical dry forest Drought and fire prediction Climate change impact modeling Land-use mgmt Species resilience modeling/monitoring Boreal & mixed forest Environmental impact monitoring Land/forest reclamation & resilience monitoring Carbon monitoring Urban forest Carbon/pollution absorption Economic value Health benefits Crime reduction Species/city resilience Responsible and sustainable natural resource development
  10. 10. 10 Clean air, water, carbon absorption Fertile soil, crop production BiodiversityHealth/economic benefits Fuel / energy Benefits Deforestation & development Impacts Mitigations desired Use cases Development Cycle 18 million hectares lost / year1 Rainforests may disappear within 100 years1 Sustainable development Responsible supply chains Land reclamation / land-use Conservation Carbon reduction Climate change impact modeling Drought / fire prediction Supply chain transparency Environmental impact monitoring Policy monitoring / enforcement Carbon absorption / valuation Land-use management Sustainable natural resource development Sustainable bioenergy development2 Pollution, drought, carbon emissions, fires, natural disasters Land degradation, compromised food security, lack of clean water Increased poverty, spread of disease
  11. 11. Example AI environmental model Data Sources Blended Models Data Sources AI/Cognitive Prediction Engine IoT sensors Land use Structural fingerprint Spectral fingerprint Species growth data Development Forecast + Resource demand prediction Weather + Climate change modeling Development plans Env. Impact Assessment (EIA) Ecological fingerprint Hydrological fingerprint Species resilience forecast Growth+Health BETTER DECISIONS • Maximize resource value • Manage demand • Sustainable development • Enforce EIA and carbon commitments • Maximize biodiversity • Manage reclamation • Maximize/manage valuation (carbon sink, pollution absorption, water filtration) • Supply chain transparency

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