Airbus Defence and Space

Airbus Defence and Space and the AFD launch phase two of their partnership to protect the forests of the Congo Basin

• Satellite imagery made available by France will help Central African countries implement strategies for the preservation and sustainable management of the forests of the Congo Basin, the world’s second-largest tract of rainforest
• Phase two of the partnership between Airbus Defence and Space and the Agence Française de Développement (AFD)1 will consolidate the forest mapping expertise of countries in the area and help them set up national plans to combat climate change
• According to the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), 13 million hectares of the world’s forests disappear every year

17 April 2012 – Airbus Defence and Space, Europe’s leading space technology company, and the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) have launched the second phase of their partnership to protect the forests of the Congo Basin.

Thanks to their alliance, satellite images are being made directly available to Central African countries committed to the sustainable management of rainforests. The partnership’s goal is to develop forest-governance expertise in these countries, which are taking part in international initiatives such as REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) and local projects, among them national climate plans designed to achieve greenhouse-gas reduction targets. In doing so, the nations of the Congo Basin are restating their commitment to the fight against climate change.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is one of the leading countries in the organisation and structure of the agencies that make up the REDD+ programme.

Vincent Kasulu Seya Makonga, the DRC’s Head of Sustainable Development and the country’s representative to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said: “SPOT data is an essential source of information, and the fact that it is being made readily available represents real added value, especially for the Measurement, Reporting & Verification (MRV) system we are setting up within the framework of REDD+, and in the drafting of our National Forest Inventory.”

Under the first phase of the partnership between the AFD and Airbus Defence and Space, signed in 2010, SPOT satellite images were made available to help identify methods for mapping the entire forest mass of the Congo Basin. Phase two will allow beneficiaries to implement these methods across all countries and enhance their forest-mapping expertise. It will also aid understanding of the factors involved in deforestation, with a view to setting national climate plans for forestry protection.

Earth observation from space has long been used as a tool for mapping and managing forests. Combining broad coverage and resolution ranging from 2.5 to 20 metres, the satellite imagery provided by SPOT is ideally suited to monitoring forest cover. By comparing archive imagery taken between 1990 and 2011 against new photos, it will now be possible to assess the extent to which REDD+ targets are being met.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the disappearance of 13 million hectares of forest every year is the source of around 17 percent of all greenhouse-gas emissions linked to human activity.

The partnership between the AFD and Airbus Defence and Space has been made possible thanks to the support of the French government through a consortium of partners including IGN France International (IGN-FI), the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES), the Institut National de l'Information Géographique et Forestière (IGN) and the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD).

More information in our special dossier online about how space technology participates to study our earth and notably combat deforestation:  


Notes to Editors:

1 AFD is the Groupe Agence Française de Développement, a bi-lateral development finance institution established in 1941 that works on behalf of the French government. Its mission is to finance development according to France’s Overseas Development Assistance policies.


About Airbus Defence and Space

Airbus Defence and Space is the number one company in Europe for space technologies and the third in the world. In 2011, Airbus Defence and Space had a turnover close to €5 billion and 18,000 employees worldwide, mainly in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain and the Netherlands.

Airbus Defence and Space is the sole European company that covers the whole range of civil and defence space systems and services.

Its three business units are: Airbus Defence and Space for launchers and orbital infrastructure; Airbus Defence and Space for spacecraft and ground segment;  Airbus Defence and Space for comprehensive fixed and mobile end-to-end solutions covering secure and commercial satcoms and networks, high security and broadcast satellite communications equipment and systems, and bespoke geo-information services, worldwide.

Airbus Defence and Space is a wholly owned subsidiary of AIRBUS Group, a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2011, the Group – comprising Airbus, Airbus Defence and Space, Cassidian and Eurocopter – generated revenues of € 49.1 billion and employed a workforce of over 133,000.


Press contacts:

Jeremy Close (Airbus Defence and Space UK)                                                         Tel.: +44 (0)1 438 77 3872

Gregory Gavroy (Airbus Defence and Space FR)                                                      Tel.: +33 (0) 1 77 75 80 32

Mathias Pikelj (Airbus Defence and Space D)                                                          Tel.: +49 (0) 7545 8 9123

Francisco Lechón (Airbus Defence and Space SP)                                                   Tel.: +34 91 586 37 41