Professors Oliver Phillips and Guy Ziv launch world-first forest carbon mapping initiative

They are collaborators on GEO-TREES, a global, £13m funded project to collect ground data and validate carbon storage maps of the world’s forests.

Land vegetation stores a huge volume of carbon, and keeping it out of the atmosphere is essential to limit climate change. Mapping it supports researchers and practitioners to protect it from degradation. 

As GEO-TREES plans to make its data open to everyone, its results will support people around the world to understand the trajectory of climate change and act on effective solutions to it.

A world-first initiative

GEO-TREES is the world's first ground-based, open-access, equitably developed and funded reference system that supports accurate satellite observations of forest carbon stocks. 

The project funds and supports data collection and practitioners on the ground, particularly in the Global South. Their vital data will help translate remote satellite estimates of forest structure into valid numbers of forest biomass density, enabling carbon to be mapped accurately across the world’s forests.

GEO-TREES aims to give representation, fair compensation and investment to partners in the Global South, many of whom have limited access to research funding. The project will also assist governments, policymakers and communities to understand its results. 

Abel Monteagudo stands on a metal ladder against a tree in the Amazon forest.

Abel Monteagudo measuring a large Amazon tree, Peru. Image by Roel Brienen

Professor Oliver Phillips coordinates the global ForestPlots network, which is a key partner of GEO-TREES and serves on the project’s Executive Board. Guy Ziv, Pro-Dean International of the Faculty of Environment and Professor of Socio-Environmental Systems, is a Scientific Advisor to the project. 

Both Professors participated in the GEO-TREES launch meeting at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. in May 2024, with colleagues from every inhabited continent. 

Professor Phillips delivered a keynote presentation titled “The ground network experience, their contribution to GEO-TREES, and the challenge to make tropical forest science fairer.” 

More information

Top image: Jake Bryant – collecting trees for species identification, Peruvian Andean forests

Read more about GEO-TREES on its website.