Overhead image of a forest
MIDS Capstone Project Summer 2023

Green Guardians

Canada's Boreal Forest stretches across the entire country and makes up 25% of the world's remaining forests.  It sequesters twice as much carbon per square acre as the Amazon forest and is a critical component of the global defense against climate change.  

The Boreal Forest is also an important source of lumber for the Canadian logging industry, which generates billions in revenue each year and employs thousands of Canadians.  The industry uses clear cutting and full tree removal to harvest trees.  Traditionally, these methods have been considered carbon neutral, under the assumption that clear cuts eventually regenerate with new tree growth.

Recent studies by Canadian non-profits have shown that not all of the clear cut areas regenerate, even after 30 years.  In particular, logging infrastructure, including roads, turnouts, staging areas and tree waste stations do not regenerate.  These areas are known as logging scars.

The ability to identify and measure logging scars is needed to understand the impact of these areas on the carbon sequestration of the Boreal Forest and on the overall ecology of the forest.  

Green Guardians has created a tool that can identify logging scars, roads and unforested areas in Canada's Boreal Forest from images taken with Sentinel-2 satellite.  This tool is comprised of a set of ML models and can be accessed through our website: greenguardians.net.  It is intended to provide a first analysis of the forest and highlight areas for further study.

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Last updated: August 8, 2023