AstroSat export deal to help save the rainforests

AstroSat export deal to help save the rainforests

Scottish space services and management company AstroSat has won a major contract to help fight the illegal removal of timber from fragile rainforests in Guatemala.

The deal will see the Edinburgh firm develop a unique “CCTV in the sky” system in partnership with UK and US-based company Earth Observation Ltd to monitor forests and detect illegal activity.

Forests, of which nearly 40% are primary forests, cover one third of Guatemala’s land area. The annual rate of deforestation was 1% for the period 2010-15 and illegal logging is a widespread problem in the country.

The contract is yet another coup for the company, which has recently been shortlisted for the ‘Most Entrepreneurial Exporter of the Year’ and ‘Small Exporter of the Year’ awards at the HSBC Scottish Export Awards 2016.

Steve Lee, Astrosat CEO and founder, said: "What we are working on here could be described as a CCTV system which operates from space.

“With the data and information we can garner, we can help countries and communities which are at the mercy of unscrupulous operators.

"This, in effect, brings space - and space companies and organisations - into the Fair Trade arena, by helping local farmers and villagers to manage sustainable timber reserves.

“Illegal logging not only undercuts markets, but has a devastating effect on vital ecosystems."

Astrosat's technology will help the Guatemalan government agencies to monitor large forested areas such as the rich and diverse Reserva de Biosfera Maya and a series of national parks along the Mexican border.

Working with Earth Observation, it will monitor areas of jurisdiction and particular types of trees to ensure that only permitted timber felling is allowed, creating a legal market for sustainably-managed forestry products.

Astrosat employs 24 people and has a growing turnover in excess of £1.6m.