WWF-Canada’s Nature x Carbon Tech Challenge aims to support efforts to reduce carbon in the atmosphere using nature-based climate solutions
TORONTO, May 17, 2022 – WWF-Canada is pleased to announce that five finalists have been selected in the Nature x Carbon Tech Challenge, which is catalyzing the development of cost-effective, innovative and user-friendly technologies and approaches to facilitate the community-led measurement of carbon in nature.
Nature-based climate solutions, which protect and restore natural features that sequester carbon, are a key part of achieving our commitments to get to net zero by 2050. But we must be able to measure how much carbon is being captured by nature over time to ensure we meet those targets. A variety of approaches for carbon measurement already exist but ensuring quality and scalability of data collection can be costly and/or labour and time intensive.
The solutions brought forward by the finalists include innovative applications of machine learning, lidar and satellite imagery, and new ways to incorporate and learn from Indigenous knowledge systems. Finalists receive a $25,000 grant, access to a spot in the Microsoft Entrepreneurship for Positive Impact program and mentorship from participating members of the Microsoft Canada Executive team to help them advance their projects. Finalists have until March 2023 to validate their technologies/solutions in the field.
Based on the results of the validation phase, WWF-Canada will select up to three final award recipients to receive a contract of up to $100,000 to implement their technology in the field.
Nature x Carbon Tech Challenge finalists:
- MANTECH, Guelph, Ontario: Rapid assessment of carbon distribution in nature using an innovative hand-held sensor
- Hatfield, North Vancouver, British Columbia: arboSense: Advanced machine learning to estimate tree height and above ground biomass
- Korotu Technology, Toronto, Ontario: LandSteward: Community forest monitoring and carbon reporting
- Innovatree Carbon Group Ltd., Kamloops, British Columbia: Innovatree forest carbon monitoring software
- Laval University, Quebec City, Quebec: Forest BIOmass measurement from 3D terrestrial LiDAR SCANning (BioScan3D)
Additional details on finalists below.
James Snider, Vice-president, science, knowledge and innovation, WWF-Canada
“The range of technologies submitted for measuring carbon in nature exceeded our expectations. We were fortunate to receive excellent proposals from universities, non-profits, for-profits and multi-sectorial organizations across Canada and we are thrilled to invest in innovative yet accessible solutions to make a real and critical impact in protecting and restoring important places for climate and biodiversity.”
Garrett Whitworth, Director, Innovatree Carbon Group Ltd.
“Having already experienced the devastating impacts that it can have on our communities, the Innovatree team is committed to fighting climate change. The software was developed to simplify and reduce the cost of forest carbon project development and monitoring for First Nations, local communities and industry. We are merging First Nations knowledge with practical experience and technical expertise to develop enhanced climate technologies and practices. We are excited to be selected as a finalist for the Nature X Carbon Tech Challenge and look forward to working with WWF-Canada to advance our technology for nature and people.”
Agata Rudd, Co-founder, Korotu Technology
“We are thrilled to be named as a finalist in the WWF-Canada Nature X Carbon Tech Challenge. Canada has set out to protect 30% of its lands and waters by 2030. The task ahead of us is hard, and we are often missing the data we need to identify ecologically significant areas that would benefit from added protections. Korotu Technology is a social venture and sustainable finance technology start-up that helps communities protect their forests, wetlands, grasslands and farmland by allowing them to understand and value the carbon and other natural assets in their ecosystems. The support we receive from WWF-Canada will allow us to take our technology further, enabling communities to tackle climate change and biodiversity challenges from the ground up.”
Additional detail on finalists:
Rapid assessment of carbon distribution in nature using an innovative hand-held sensor
The team at MANTECH has developed a portable, user-friendly sensor (PeCOD®) for calculating the amount of organic carbon found in water, soil and biomass samples while out in the field or in a lab. This analysis is rapid and can be carried out following basic training. MANTECH is based in Guelph, ON and has existing partnerships with IISD-ELA, the University of Guelph, Dalhousie University, Queen’s University and the University of Waterloo.
arboSense: Advanced machine learning to estimate forest canopy heights and above ground biomass
Hatfield has developed arboSense, a model that can produce spatially explicit maps of forest canopy height at a spatial resolution of 10 m based on satellite image datasets. Using ground-based field measurements, arboSense can be extended to estimate the above-ground biomass in forests. Community users will be able to access and utilize arboSense through Jupyter notebooks, hosted in a scalable cloud computing platform.
LandSteward: Community forest monitoring and carbon reporting
Korotu Technology helps communities protect natural areas to support climate and biodiversity stewardship. Korotu’s LandSteward platform continuously monitors and measures the forests, wetlands and grasslands communities depend on. Satellite based LiDAR and Optical Sensors allow the platform’s mobile and web users to rapidly estimate and visualize heat maps of the carbon contained in nature.
Innovatree Carbon Group Ltd.
Innovatree forest carbon monitoring software
Innovatree has been collaboratively developed between AIB Innovation Ltd., an R&D company specializing in sustainable innovation, and Second Pass Forestry Ltd., a First Nation-owned forestry consulting company. The Innovatree software relies on LiDAR data and machine learning to calculate the carbon found in forest biomass. This technology is combined with a minimal number of field-plot inventories and produces georeferenced maps and datasets with information scaled down to the individual tree level.
Forest BIOmass measurement from 3D terrestrial LiDAR SCANning (BioScan3D)
The team from Laval University is developing user-friendly software that processes data from terrestrial laser scanners which are used to generate 3D point clouds and estimate above-ground biomass in forests. In addition, estimations of the uncertainty will also be provided and allow for detailed estimates of carbon found in the above-ground biomass in any given forest. This user-friendly software will allow those with minimal training to measure the carbon found in forests.
About World Wildlife Fund Canada
WWF-Canada creates solutions to the environmental challenges that matter most for Canadians. We work in places that are unique and ecologically important, so that nature, wildlife and people thrive together. Because we are all wildlife. For more information, visit wwf.ca