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Speaker: Leo Bottrill, Director of CrowdCover and Project Leader for the Moabi Initiative
While we have seen great advances in satellite-based based forest monitoring systems, they don’t give us the full picture of why forests are lost. Satellites don’t tell us who caused forest loss, the values derived, or the impacts felt on the ground. The Moabi Initiative (rdc.moabi.org) aims to bridge this gap. The initiative uses an innovative crowdsourcing platform to build a coalition of organizations tracking drivers of deforestation and support independent monitoring of REDD+ in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). At the national scale, Moabi monitors land use planning such as extractive industries, industrial agriculture, infrastructure and logging. This data has identified hundreds of competing land uses with REDD+ pilot projects and monitored emerging industries such as new palm oil plantations. In the field, the initiative is training independent observers and local communities to monitor impacts on the ground and ensure REDD+ projects meet social and environmental safeguard requirements. Coupled with satellite imagery and planning data, this human network provides a potentially rapid and cost effective means of monitoring DRC’s vast forests and strengthening the rule of law.
Leo Bottrill is Director of CrowdCover and Project Leader for the Moabi Initiative (rdc.moabi.org), a collaborative mapping project strengthening forest governance in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Leo initiated Moabi while working for the World Wildlife Fund where he developed a suite of visual and mapping tools to track everything from palm oil plantations in the Sumatran rainforest to copper mining in Alaska. He also directed Heart of Iron (heartofiron.org), a documentary film that explored the risks and benefits of iron mining in the remote Tridom landscape of the Congo Basin. Leo holds an MA in Geography from the University of St. Andrews and an MSc in Environmental Technology from Imperial College London. He is based in Washington DC.