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NCEO wins Space Innovation Award for Forest Alert System

National Centre for Earth Observation (NCEO) picked up the Space Innovation Award at the 2023 LeicestershireLive Innovation Awards on February 16th 2023.

Co-developed by NCEO, the University of Leicester and the Kenya Forest Service, the Forest Alert System sends out alerts every five days if a forest cover loss is detected. Using satellite images from Copernicus Sentinel-2 this rapid deforestation monitoring system is able to detect small-scale logging operations at 10 metres spatial resolution.

According to Professor Heiko Balzter, who is a Director of the Institute for Environmental Futures, University of Leicester and a member of NCEO, the Forest Alerts System sends out information to rangers in the field faster than any other system in the world. By using this new technology, forest rangers in Kwale and Kilifi in Kenya have been able to tackle almost 400 cases of illegal logging.

Forest Alert is a system that sends out rapid deforestation alerts to a mobile app and enables communication with thousands of app users in the field via a central dashboard. This enables effective protection of forest assets from illegal logging.

The Forest Alert System has been rolled out across Kenya in order to protect the country’s threatened ecosystems. The project was the winner of the Copernicus Masters, Sustainable Living Challenge and the team are excited that the project has also been recognised by the LeicestershireLive Innovation Awards.

Professor Balzter said: “I am honoured that my team in the National Centre for Earth Observation has won the Innovation in Space Award.  The Forest Alert System has been a real team effort, and I am grateful to all my colleagues, funders and partner organisations who have helped us get to this point.”

“The innovation award will help us with the commercialisation process of the system. My hope is that the forest alerts can contribute to halting global deforestation by 2030, as was agreed by world leaders at the Climate Conference in Glasgow.”


The Forest Alert System system provides near-real-time deforestation alerts at unprecedented spatial resolution (10 metres) that allows detection of small-scale forest degradation and selective logging of single large trees in tropical rainforests.

Professor Heiko Balzter (left) and Professor Richard Ambrosi (right), Executive Director of Space Park Leicester, receive the Innovation in Space Award at the 2023 LeicestershireLive Innovation Awards. (Photo: Will Johnston Photography).

About the LeicestershireLive Innovation Awards

The LeicestershireLive Innovation Awards showcases the very best technology, services, digital advances, and creative thinking that the region has to offer.

The Innovation in Space Award celebrates this fast-growing sector, and the dozens of small, medium and large companies in the region working on ground-breaking research and technology. Previous finalists have shown innovation in satellites, mapping and air quality management.