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How Technology Can Help Simplify Access to Carbon Markets

10 August 2023

CarbonCrop helps landholders unlock carbon incentives on their forests. Built to help our internal team to manage carbon projects of all sizes efficiently and cost-effectively, we’ve since come to realise our platform has more value helping everyone else.

We’re moving from carbon competitor to collaborator.

Everyone has already registered in the ETS, right?

Three years ago, when CarbonCrop was just a twinkle in the eye of the Nelson Artificial Intelligence Institute, we were tossing around the idea of whether AI could be used to assess carbon stock and removals in forests, and make it easier for more people to access carbon incentives that would accelerate restoration of forests and removal of carbon.

We almost wrote it off. The NZ ETS was mature – at 12 years old, surely everyone has registered their forests by now. The first ten  landholders we spoke with all had qualifying native forests by our assessment, but we kept on hearing the same thing:

  • Yes, they knew about the ETS
  • Yes, they had all looked into registering
  • No, they didn’t know what areas of their forest qualified
  • The registration process seemed complicated

Even understanding whether you had anything worth registering was an expensive exercise, let alone actually trying to register, with no guarantee of success. It was an expensive roll of the dice.

So we figured this was a problem that technology could definitely help solve.

Going beyond people power

The value in telling people what they had and what it was worth, for free, unleashed an avalanche of demand. In just one day we received 248 land assessment applications!

We couldn’t keep up with this level of demand. Hiring more carbon analysts helped a bit, but wasn’t a sustainable way to grow. Our AI was already our mapping assistant, providing the first draft and giving us something to tweak rather than starting the mapping process from scratch each time. But with 200+ customers all at different stages of the process, keeping track of all the moving parts without some falling through the cracks and slowing down the process was tough. So we built tools that kept the status progress of data, imagery and customer comms front and centre.

What we’d built meant we could remotely assess land that was previously considered difficult, and that we could do it at a relatively low marginal cost. As a result, we became very good at cost-effectively assessing native forest over vast areas of land and getting a good result. Efficient and effective tools built specifically for our carbon analysts.

An example of this was Orongorongo Station in the Wairarapa.

CarbonCrop Native Sequestration Example
CarbonCrop Native Sequestration Example

Then we had 200 MERs to file

Our customers were keen for their carbon credits, but quickly checking all 200+ forests for forest loss seemed impossible without running risks of ETS non-compliance. We needed the help of AI to triage our efforts.  Flossy is our forest loss detention model, who quickly scans satellite imagery of forested areas and detects where forest has been lost.

On its first day in operation, Flossy picked up an area of forest cleared by the farmer for a shed a few years ago. The farmer then forgot about it so it was not declared. With Flossy’s help, we could quickly check all our customer’s forests and confidently submit our emissions returns filing.

Efficient and effective

In the last two years we have assessed 2 million hectares of land with a team of up to seven carbon analysts. That’s essentially on average 600 ha of land assessed per day, every day, every year.

The results speak for themselves:

  • 265 projects were registered last year
  • More than 80% of them were native, unlike the ETS where 17% are native
  • $25 million in carbon revenue paid out to these landholders

Less time at your desk and more time in the field

So we’ve built a technology platform specifically for forest carbon projects which makes managing multiple projects easier, makes assessing smaller projects more cost-effective, and keeps our customers ETS compliant through forest loss detection.

We’ve built something that is more valuable if we make it available to you instead of keeping it to ourselves. So you can spend less time on this admin too, and more time out in the field/forest.

We’ve got a pilot running with a few forestry consultants getting hands on feedback on what we’ve built.

If you’re interested in going for a test drive, get in touch through carboncrop.com.

CarbonCrop - Save time, Earn More and Stay Compliant
CarbonCrop – Save time, Earn More and Stay Compliant

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