Fighting deforestation with REACTIFI

Developing a web-based service to monitor deforestation and forest degradation in Africa

This project is partly funded by the Austrian Research Promotion agency under the project number 878888. Thank you for supporting our cause!

The aim of the REACTIFI project is to develop a service prototype tailored to the REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) project, which facilitates the monitoring of deforestation and forest degradation in Africa. Cloudflight has been appointed to lead the consortium of this undertaking and is working alongside other partners on its development and implementation.

The service is designed for the Forest Inventory in Central and East Africa and based on freely accessible Copernicus satellite images, terrestrial data and airborne 3D data. It provides up-to-date information on forest conditions as well as carbon loss from deforestation and forest degradation in different forest and land use categories.

Michael Aspetsberger, Industry Focus Leader Aerospace at Cloudflight

Michael Aspetsberger
Industry Focus
Leader Aerospace

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By 2021

Uganda would lose its natural forest cover if the current deforestation rate of 1.5% continues.

0 Million

hectares of Uganda’s forests have been lost only between 2000 and 2015.

0 Million

hectares of Ugandan forests are expected to be restored by 2030 with the help of agroforestry systems like REACTIFI.


What is deforestation and why is it critical now?

Deforestation is a reality

Deforestation resulting from illegal logging, over-harvesting, or clearing for agricultural purposes is a reality in Central and Eastern Africa. The estimated loss of forests corresponds to around 170,000 football fields per year. At this rate, several African countries would completely lose their natural forest area by 2060 if counter-measures are not taken.

Too many unknowns

On one hand, there are factors that are not yet taken into account when quantifying areas of deforestation. This includes forest degradation in agroforestry systems, which are major drivers of carbon emissions.

On the other hand, the areas to monitor are typically large – i.e., nature reserves with thousands of hectares of dense tropical forest. How do we know when and where to go? And as soon as the areas are found, how can we objectively quantify the damage from the ground?

Conventional methods do not work

This work has conventionally been carried out manually and on the ground. This is quite labor-intensive and means going where the damage is actually happening in order to be able to document and report changes. A forest inventory tailored to REDD+ Monitoring, Reporting, and Verification (MRV) makes these tasks feasible because it keeps a constant watch over forested areas.

REDD+ is a climate change mitigation solution being developed by the United Nations. The program incentivizes developing countries to keep their forests standing by offering results-based payments for actions to reduce or remove forest carbon emissions. Evidence of this is to be provided through accurate measurements of deforestation rates.



How can we automate and improve deforestation quantification using the latest technical resources? Remote sensing techniques are able to provide more innovative and automated approaches to locating and quantifying damage.

Novel methods

Innovative methods such as SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) shadow-based change detection and pixel-based harmonic regression modeling will be developed. The aim is to improve satellite based activity data by including forest degradation, agroforestry systems and land cover changes in order to get a REDD+ MRV dataset at Tier level 2-3 which can subsequently be assessed by national forest inventories to address the national circumstances.

REACTIFI will develop methods for REDD+ forest monitoring and carbon accounting based on Copernicus Sentinel-1 &-2 data in order to reach an unprecedented spatio–temporal resolution for the resulting information products.

Massive data processing

Sentinel satellites provide a new image for any spot on the globe every three to five days. With a volume of several Terabytes per day, this is truly a Big Data application. The REACTIFI processing engine will take advantage of novel methods for automated analysis of data and extraction of information relevant to MRV reporting.

Timely access and delivery

Accessing and combining data is a critical factor when working with big EO (Earth Observation) datasets. For this reason, a fully tailored web service will host and visualize all data and results generated, thereby providing stakeholders with a set of tools that gives them access to beyond-state-of-the-art methodology and technology to support their regional and national MRV processes.



REACTIFI will allow forest managers, administration, and all people involved in relevant processes to explore remote sensing data and derived products for their areas of interest. The main goal is to use that data for REDD+ reporting duties. This will enable users to act more quickly and accurately than they can with their current systems.

The REACTIFI Output:

  • A fully-fledged web-based geographic information system built on open source technologies and which is scalable and fully tailored to the REDD+ MRV level
  • Stakeholders can access information on forest status and carbon loss caused by deforestation and forest degradation as well as additional auxiliary datasets such as forest and land cover layers and combine them with their own datasets on the fly
  • The proposed web service is a versatile solution built and tested to run as an automated processing chain on Copernicus cloud processing services (e.g., DIASes)
  • Sentinel satellite time series analysis for forest monitoring and CO2 assessment, improved detection of forest degradation, better separation of disturbance types, and estimation of emission factors
  • Estimation of forest biomass at high accuracy by combining optical remote sensing data with in-situ information such as terrestrial surveys or data from airborne remote sensing systems

Cloudflight develops customized software solutions with a focus on high-performance computing, scalability, and reliability. The software systems for this project are developed, validated, deployed, and hosted by Cloudflight, thereby leveraging the skills of the various in-house experts.


Joanneum Research analyzes remote sensing data in order to monitor the environment, develop algorithms for image analysis, process chains for data pre-processing, and generate 3D information from stereo image data.


  • Do you work in forest administration, conservation, or landscape ecology?
  • Are you interested in automating or optimizing existing processes?
  • We would be happy to advise and support you!
Werner Mücke, Business Developer at Cloudflight

Werner Mücke

Industry Focus Co-Leader Aerospace
As a business developer and industry focus co-leader, Werner is always looking for opportunities to cooperate and build new products and services. Werner has an educational background in Surveying and Geoinformation with a PhD in engineering sciences. He has worked in the acquisition, processing, analysis, administration and management of different kinds of geospatial data (terrestrial, airborne, and space borne).

Laura Costa

Project Lead and Business Developer Aerospace
As a Geoinformation engineer with product management experience, Laura is leading projects at Cloudflight in the frame of Earth Observation: e.g. regarding precision farming, disease control, crop resilience and reforestation. As a business developer, she looks for new opportunities and manages to identify and prioritize the most effective strategies for each customer.

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