Paris (ESA) May 06, 2022 The global trade in agricultural commodities provides food, fuel and fibre...
Approximately 90% of global deforestation is driven by agricultural expansion - a phenomenon which has roots in the global demand for products such as palm oil, soy and beef.
The leading traders each sourced 12-44% for soy, 15-90% of palm oil, 94-99% of live cattle and essentially 100% of cocoa indirectly.
Indirect sourcing is ignored by many sustainable procurement efforts across the cattle, soy, cocoa, and oil palm sectors.
"Zoltan Szantoi, ESA's Land Applications Scientist and co-author of the paper, commented,"The research here draws conclusions based on in situ data, showing that indirect sourcing of major agricultural commodities might limit companies' efforts on sustainable procurement, and consequently, on their zero deforestation commitments.
"On the other hand, the Copernicus Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 satellites are providing data which can be utilised for accurately monitoring agricultural areas, as we've shown with cocoa in the Ivory Coast, as well as deforestation and thus, support such efforts."
Spotlight on cocoa plantations In recent years, the cultivation of cocoa has led to the loss of vast tracts of forested areas in Ivory Coast and Ghana - the largest producers of cocoa in the world.
As noted above, indirect sourcing accounts for essentially 100% of cocoa, and thus, the mapping and monitoring of such plantations is essential, not only for the zero-deforestation commitments and biodiversity loss, but also for production, quality, and sustainability of cocoa in both countries.
Findings to support this article partially come from a recently published study in Science Direct, where the authors identified cocoa plantations in both Ivory Coast and Ghana using satellite data from the Copernicus programme.
The team were able to detect cocoa plantations thanks to Sentinel-1's radar data combined with Sentinel-2's optical imagery in a big data cloud-computing environment.
Zoltan explains: "Thanks to the satellite data, we found a successful method to map cocoa farms at a national level and show its potential to be upscaled on a wider scale. Earth observation satellites are instrumental in providing comprehensive information on the full extent and rate of cocoa-driven deforestation. The findings highlight the urgent need for governments and cocoa buyers to address the causes of cocoa-related deforestation."