How to investigate Europe’s biomass industry with open-source data

A guide for journalists on how to conduct analysis on Europe’s biomass operators and tree cover loss

“Forest management” — forest clearcutting in Estonia (overlay between high-resolution satellite images and algorithmic produced forest cover loss data)

A bit of background first

Google Earth Pro and QGIS

Filter EU Natura shapefile
Once we filtered the EE/Estonian areas we can use the inspect tool in QGIS to check each. In red, we see the EU protected area around Haanja Nature Park.
In red, Estonia’s EU Natura 2000 protected areas

Studying protected areas

QGIS tool (free)
EU-protected area in Haanja, Estonia — in pink, we see forest cover loss after 2015

Global Forest Watch forest cover loss data

Checking forest cover loss data and its validity for Estonia

How to bring GFW forest cover loss data result (post-2015) into Google Earth to check how well the data lines up with visible forest loss
Post-2015 changes: Changes in forest cover loss compared with high-resolution satellite images from Google Earth Pro
Large-scale forest clearing found in 2019 on Graanul Invest-listed property, according to the Estonian land registry database, and took place right next to a town called Vaida, a small borough in Rae Parish, Harju County, in northern Estonia. Note the residential zone north of it (Google Earth).
Global Forest Watch data comparison with satellite data (data forest loss cover between 2015 and 2019)

Where does wood pellet corporations own land?

A dataset of land owned by a large biomass wood pellet manufacturer
Filtering properties according to katastritunnus
Filtering out only areas a wood pellet company owns that are located within or intersecting with EU protected areas
In red, the outline of the property by the company in question
Land registry tool
link to the area

The impact of deforestation on tourism

Last words

Investigative journalist with a technical edge, interested in open source investigations, satellite imgs, R, python, AI, data journalism and injustice

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