Earth Blox is used for rapid assessments of forest carbon projects. This case study details how Earth Blox enabled environmental consultancy Eticwood to meet a customer deadline without having to hire extra staff.
“Not only does Earth Blox save us time and budget, but helps us gain confidence with our customers because we can answer their questions more quickly. Earth Blox was paid for in that first contract.” - Julien Phillipart, Deputy Director at Eticwood
Eticwood is a Belgium-based consultancy that provides a range of services and products for the forestry and agroforestry sectors, from preliminary analysis to marketing products. Their clients include both the public (including, AFD, KFW, European Commission) and the private sector (such as, logging, mining, oil and gas companies). The team is made up of forestry bioengineers and civil engineers who deliver projects in over 20 countries.
The carbon team at Eticwood specialise in supporting project leaders in the implementation of Nature Based Solutions (NbS) and valuing the potential carbon emission reductions/ removals of VCS/CCB projects. Geospatial data analyses are central to their work and are used to look at past land use, land use change, and (historical) deforestation in NbS project eligibility assessments. The team was using QGIS and ArcMap for their spatial analyses but found it a time consuming and intensive process to select relevant satellite imagery and compute semi-automatic classification.
Julien Phillipart, Deputy Director at Eticwood, explains:
“With these tools, it's often a trial and error process. We try a methodology for a dedicated map. Sometimes it doesn't work because some parameters are not defined, or it works but it’s not the result we expect, so we lose a lot of time trying to find the best equation or the best model to implement.”
It was when they were facing a tight deadline for a customer report that required an assessment of 380,000 hectares of forest that the pain became real, says Damien Minchilli, Carbon and Forest Restoration Project Officer at Eticwood.
“My colleague and I had been working on this for over a week on QGIS and wondering how we were going to be able to meet the deadline when we saw an invitation to a webinar for Earth Blox on LinkedIn. During the webinar we could immediately see how Earth Blox could help speed up our assessment. We booked a demo and sent over some shapefiles so we could see Earth Blox in action for the forest areas we needed to assess.”
During the technical demonstration, the Eticwood team watched as the same analysis they had struggled with for over a week was completed in less than half an hour on Earth Blox. They calculated that without Earth Blox, they would need to hire a team of five forest engineers or GIS technicians, at a cost of EUR 12,500, for one week to complete the report by their client’s deadline. So they signed up right away.
Earth Blox is an Earth observation software-as-a-service used here for rapid assessments of forest carbon and conservation projects. It has an intuitive, drag-and-drop interface, and pre-built workflows that can be easily run by users that do not have geospatial expertise. The results can be downloaded and are available in visual and tabular formats for inclusion in reports.
Through Earth Blox, EticWood has commercial access to the Google Earth Engine data archive which contains more than 40 years of historical imagery and scientific datasets, updated and expanded daily. Unlike other solutions that focus on single datasets, such as forests or land cover, Earth Blox allows users to layer multiple, diverse datasets to build comprehensive insights into how different environmental factors such as fire, flood, combine to provide the most accurate picture of what’s on the ground and how it changes
Earth Blox is a cloud-hosted service removing the need to download data or have significant computing resources on your desktop. Processing time for an analysis is shortened from hours or days to just minutes.
“We wouldn’t have been able to deliver to the customer in time without Earth Blox,” says Julien. “Not only does it save us time and budget, but helps us gain confidence with our customers because we can answer their questions more quickly. Earth Blox was paid for in that first contract.”
- Budget saved: to meet their customer’s deadline, Eticwood would have needed to hire five forest engineers for a week to analyse 380,000 hectares of forest, costing the business over EUR 12,500 in contractor salaries.
- Time saved: using Earth Blox, Eticwood can conduct analyses for NbS project assessments in hours rather than days.
- Customer confidence: Eticwood is able to respond to their customers quickly and credibly with Earth Blox. Now they can offer same day answers to questions such as, 'is this area suitable for a carbon project'.