‘Yadrava Na Vanua’ From Fiji wins Grand Prize for Space for Planet Earth Challenge


On February 19, Fiji’s ‘Yadrava Na Vanua’ (Environment Watch) won the grand prize in the Space for Planet Earth Challenge beating teams from New Zealand and Australia.

The goal of the Challenge was to use space technologies to find new and innovative solutions to address climate change issues in New Zealand, Australia, and the Pacific Islands.

‘Yadrava Na Vanua’ focused on integrating satellite data on land cover types across Fiji with ground truth measurements, and refining carbon sequestration data with machine learning analysis of high-resolution satellite images from Planet to generate international standard levels of measurements, reporting, and carbon stock verification.

The ‘Yadrava Na Vanua’ team was coordinated by Nicholas Metherall – a USP student with the Pacific Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development (PaCE-SD). He was committed to this project as a part of his PhD thesis. His thesis focuses on holistic and integrative monitoring of river catchments in Fiji with a particular focus on riparian vegetation, mangroves and forests. The thesis will rely on both field data collection as well as remote sensing and GIS approaches.

The team also included students and researchers from Fiji National University, University of Fiji, University of Western Australia, University of Canterbury and The Australian National University.

Yadrava Na Vanua is made up of three sub-teams including a mangrove and coastal carbon team, forests and trees outside of forests team and a remote sensing, GIS and MRV team. This includes a diverse and interdisciplinary team with expertise across the fields of remote sensing, GIS, climate science, forestry, mangrove, marine science, carbon sequestration, carbon sequestration verification and ecology.

Six teams from New Zealand, Australia, and Fiji competed in demos with a panel of judges, followed by a Pitch presentation to a live online audience. The winner received a cash prize of NZ$30,000 as well as satellite data from Planet and mentorship from SpaceBase.

The winners were selected by judges from Planet, the U.S. Embassy to New Zealand, Pacific GIS and Remote Sensing Council, Rocket Lab, Callaghan Innovation, ChristchurchNZ, Callaghan Innovation, and Consegna.cloud. The awards were presented by the NZ Space Agency and the U.S. Embassy.

The Challenge was made possible by a partnership between SpaceBase Limited and Planet. Sponsors include the U.S. Embassy in New Zealand, K1W1, NZ Space Agency, ChristchurchNZ, Consegna.cloud, Clare Foundation, Greenlight Ventures, Namaste Foundation, Engineering Dreams, MMAARS Academy, and Christchurch City Council.

For more information about the Challenge and the Winners, go to https://spacebase.co/

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