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Reducing Deforestation with Arbonaut

Arbonaut

8. Decent Work and Economic Growth 13. Climate Action 15. Life on Land 17. Partnerships for the Goals

Overview

Combining state-of-the-art remote sensing technology, information systems development and industry knowledge, Arbonaut provides an all-encompassing package to sustainable forest management and climate change mitigation and adaptation. With sustainability at the heart of their operations, Arbonaut brings value to both climate (SDG 13), biodiversity (SDG 15), and economic prosperity of local communities (SDG 8) - with a focus on technology and cross-sector and cross-border cooperation (SDG 17).

Authors

Trang Nguyen

Trang Nguyen

Rosa Degerman

Rosa Degerman

Alina Peltonen

Alina Peltonen

School

Hanken School of Economics

Hanken School of Economics

Professor

Jouni Virtaharju

Jouni Virtaharju

Innovation

Arbonaut combines IT systems with remote sensing tools, such as GIS, Lidar and field inventory, to create powerful tools to gather information on the current state of natural resources. This information then helps managers to create a holistic plan combining all dimensions of sustainability – economical, ecological, and social.

Arbonaut has created a number of tailored products for different users and needs. For example, ArboGIS (GIS platform for manipulating spatial information), ArboAqua (Web platform for water quality monitoring and watershed management), and ArboFiRM (remote sensing technology for fire risk management).

REDD+ is a global initiative which seeks to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation. In order to receive REDD+ finances, countries must have the following elements established and piloted:

  • National Forest Monitoring System (NFMS)
  • Forest Reference (Emission) Levels (FREL/FRL)
  • Safeguards Information System (SIS)
  • National Strategies and/or Action Plans

Arbonaut has been involved in REDD+ projects since 2009, providing technical assistance to countries to fulfil these requirements Combining in-house expertise in information system development, forest inventory, remote-sensing and national capacities, the REDD+ and Climate Change Unit is able to provide all four of the stated elements, with references in Southeast and South Asia, Africa and South America.

Reducing Deforestation with Arbonaut

Inspiration

The founder and president of Arbonaut, Tuomo Kauranne, wanted to build a company that does something meaningful in this world – “doing good things with and for forests”. Arbonaut is based in Finland, where forests have an important historical, economic, and cultural role. Forests have traditionally served as the economic basis to Finnish society, meaning that forests are exploited quite heavily by industries.

At Arbonaut, the goal is to provide solutions to the challenges of sustainable forestry and natural resource use, with a long-term perspective considering future generations. They ensure that the environment is taken into wider account when planning natural resources use, because if nothing is planned, something chaotic may ensue resulting in less optimal outcomes. A central motto in their own operations is that they “trying to make the world a better place.” By providing accurate data and solutions for planning the management of such important resources is transforming their use towards a more efficient and sustainable path.

Overall impact

At present, Arbonaut is one of very few companies worldwide that can provide an all-encompassing, full-service system concerning everything in forest information collection, data analysis and management. Their innovation enabled them to become world leaders in developing information gathering and geographic information system (GIS) solutions for forest inventory and natural resource management.

With international funding, Arbonaut helps developing countries to improve their forest management and increase carbon sequestration with benefits to society, climate, and biodiversity. Their forest inventory services have been used in forests across the world: natural and semi-natural forests in Europe, tropical forests in Asia and Africa, plantations in America, Africa and Europe.

Arbonaut offers services on consultancy, technology transfer and collaborative R&D for capacity building. The expert team of foresters, mathematicians, GIS analysts and software developers solve customers' challenges using their expertise and Arbonaut's innovations. Additionally, Arbonaut trains customers' staff as a part of technology transfer. Adding knowledge to companies' own operations has long-term impacts in reinforcing sustainable operations. Research and development collaboration enables Arbonaut's innovations to impact practices in both the public and private sector. By supporting governments in adopting sustainable natural resources management policies and improving practices, the impact of Arbonaut's innovation is global and far-reaching.

Business benefit

After over 25 years in business, Arbonaut has become a world leader in its field and has succeeded in transforming operations in natural resource management and planning from ground-based methods to aerial and satellite imagery based effective methods. This has revolutionized operations in many industries it operates with, optimizing businesses of private and public sector customers, ranging from timber companies to governments. Arbonaut's impact is widely spread, having provided over 15 million hectares of forest inventories in Finland and abroad.

By 2020, Arbonaut had operated in over 40 countries with revenue of 3,2 million euros. They build lasting partnerships worldwide with governments, large commercial operations, and world-leading technology partners for achieving scientific advancements in the field, creating new business opportunities. The company’s global footprint has also successfully attracted international talents, with a workforce from over 20 countries.

Information systems require maintenance – preferably by the party who designed them. This is the direct scalability opportunities following the conclusion of REDD+ projects. In addition, as climate change proceeds and mitigation actions increase in importance, new markets open and opportunities emerge for Arbonaut. The company recently entered the voluntary carbon markets with the conduct the Carbon, Social and Biodiversity Impact Assessments according to the VCS and CCB standards – the largest carbon offset standard worldwide – in Uganda.

Establishing relationships with the local governments are a strength not easily and quickly gained. Arbonaut’s REDD+ references provide the company with the country expertise not only in forest management, but also in the local conditions, and valuable insights in the bidding process. Another important factor is that REDD+ is a very scientific initiative – to understand the depth of REDD+ requirements asks for multidisciplinary academic and professional background. This is favorable for the company, as new fundings and applications in combatting emerging climate threats are sure to rise.

Social and environmental benefit

The innovation provides a solution in combatting deforestation and forest degradation, by providing accurate information on how, where and why forest cover changes have occurred. Through the establishment of a baseline, forest emission and carbon sequestration levels can be accurately accounted, and the drivers of change can be addressed. All of these impacts answer to Target 15.2 of SDG 15: Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.

All of REDD+ projects are funded by development funds such as the World Bank, UNDP or the Nordic Development Fund. Identifying and addressing environmental and social risks, therefore, must be met prior to project approval. Understanding that the locals depend on their nearby forests for food, income, and spiritual values, climate change projects must quantify the number of employment opportunities created for the locals, and especially women and youth. Provisions of safety and non-discriminatory conditions at work must also be ensured. The social impacts of Arbonaut’s projects facilitate SDG 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all, namely Target 8.6.

In addition, Arbonaut assisted countries in the integration and capacity-building of climate change mitigation and adaptation measures, in order to received results-based payments, which directly contributes to all targets under SDG 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

Through international cooperation with partners and countries that is technology and innovation eccentric, Arbonaut is also contributing to Target 17.6, 17.9 and 17.16 of SDG 17: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.

Interviews

Tuomo Kauranne, CEO and Founder

Jarno Hämäläinen, Head of Unit, REDD+ and Sustainable Forestry

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Arbonaut

Arbonaut

FI

Business Website: https://arbonaut.com/

Year Founded: 1994

Number of Employees: 11 to 50

Arbonaut is a Finnish natural resources monitoring provider. Drawing from two Finnish strengths - forest research and technology - Arbonaut is a world leader of forest inventory solutions. Arbonaut provides natural resources management systems and consultation, serving clients from timber owners to governments aiming to better understand, manage and protect their natural resources.