Third AI for Sustainable Finance Seminar: Using AI to classify drivers of the global forest loss webinar

3pm UK time

The Alan Turing Institute Sustainable Finance Theme would like to invite you to the third AI for Sustainable Finance Seminar. The series is an opportunity for researchers and practitioners in this emerging interdisciplinary field to come together and explore new methods, datasets, and research questions. It is also an opportunity to share updates with colleagues and network with your peers.

The second seminar will take place on the 22nd July at 3pm UK time, it will be followed by wider network updates and discussion chaired by Dr Ben Caldecott.

The seminar will be given by Dr Philip Curtis, co-founder of the start-up Juniata Analytics that is developing a system to help food businesses measure and report the environmental and social impacts of their supply chains. Juniata Analytics provides consulting services and is currently finishing a project with ReFED, a think tank dedicated to reducing food waste, to deliver a first of its kind food waste tracking model and solutions prioritization tool. Previously, Philip served as a researcher for The Sustainability Consortium where he worked closely with retailers and brand manufacturers to model their agricultural and forestry commodity supply chains to better understand and address supply chain risks. Philip completed a Masters of Environmental Science and Management from the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management at the University of California, Santa Barbara and a bachelors in Geography and Geology from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.

Using AI to classify drivers of the global forest loss
Tropical deforestation, contributing to the GHG emissions, has been featuring prominently on the global environmental finance agenda, specifically in the context of the high-risk commodities. To end deforestation, companies must eliminate 5 million hectares of conversion from supply chains each year; However, despite regional differences and efforts by governments, conservationists, and corporations to stem the losses, the overall rate of commodity-driven deforestation has not declined. Forest loss is being driven by various factors, including commodity production, forestry, agriculture, wildfire, and urbanization. Just over a quarter of global forest loss is due to deforestation through permanent land use change for the production of commodities, including beef, soy, palm oil, and wood fiber. Global maps of forest loss depict the scale and magnitude of forest disturbance, yet companies, governments, and nongovernmental organizations need to distinguish permanent conversion (i.e., deforestation) from temporary loss from forestry or wildfire. Using satellite imagery, a forest loss classification model has been developed to determine a spatial attribution of forest disturbance to the dominant drivers of land cover and land use change over the period 2001 to 2015. Results indicate that 27% of global forest loss can be attributed to deforestation through permanent land use change for commodity production. The remaining areas maintained the same land use over 15 years; in those areas, loss was attributed to forestry (26%), shifting agriculture (24%), and wildfire (23%).