Forests 2020 & ForestWatch Optical Change Detection (University of Leicester) (IPP funded as Forests 2020 project)


Forests 2020 and ForestWatch-Optical (two separate products) deliver land cover and forest cover change information gathered from satellite Earth observation (EO) optical and radar data to end users at least every five days to monitor large land areas across the globe using custom-made solutions.

Forest change detection interfaces

Solution benefits

  • High frequency and large area mapping of land cover changes using EO data.
  • Highly accurate deforestation alert system.
  • Tailored to suit the end-user’s requirements.
  • Highly scalable solution i.e. new Areas of Interest (AOI) can easily be added, and land cover monitoring areas.

Key technical features

  • Uses free EO data from the Sentinel-1 and 2.
  • Sentinel-2 is a multispectral satellite constellation imaging in the visible to infrared spectrum. Sentinel-2 carries 13 bands with three different spatial resolutions: 10 metre, 20 metre and 60 metre and a combined revisit time of five days.
  • Sentinel-1 is a C-band radar providing information day and night, and under cloud cover condition. Sentinel-1 has a combined revisit time of six days.
  • The satellite images are processed and analysed using state-of-art open source software and machine learning.
  • The ForestWatch-Optical solution is hosted by EASOS.

Case studies

Forests 2020 works in areas in Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Ghana, Kenya and Indonesia monitoring forest cover change using optical and radar imagery, supported by IPP.

ForestWatch-Optical is operational over two sites in the Malaysian peninsula, monitoring forest areas of potentially illegal logging activities, as part of the EASOS project, supported by IPP.

Organisation overview

The University of Leicester has a track record of excellent research into Earth Observation science and applications, building on over 50 years of space research. Professor Heiko Balzter, director of the Centre for Landscape and Climate Research, is an accomplished research professor with over 20 years research experience, 90 journal publications, over 3300 citations (h-index = 30), and over €14 million research income.