Democratizing earth observation to improve transparency in land use governance
Deforestation driven by international agricultural investments and mining operations are increasing in sub-Saharan Africa, often under a cloak of secrecy. Earth observation using satellite imagery and data allows us to track and report on rates of forest loss related to land concessions and empower communities and activists with evidence to resist unjust or harmful land deals. This paper looks at two case studies on artisanal mineral mining and rubber and oil palm plantations in Cameroon to demonstrate the value of satellite imagery in land governance. It finds that earth observation can serve to increase transparency in large land deals and provide a useful tool for organisations safeguarding the environment and communities defending their land rights.