In a small office near Central Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts, just across from Starbucks, is a small startup with a big idea for balancing biodiversity with business. SilviaTerra has developed better ways to identify and quantify the trees in forests, using smartphones and satellite imagery. The company’s goal is to help landowners, conservation groups, and timber companies manage their inventory and preserve valuable natural habitats.
From the Amazon and Indonesia to temperate regions such as the Olympic Peninsula and Russia, forests are among the planet’s most biologically diverse and valuable places. The World Wildlife Fund, which estimates that we are losing dozens of football fields of forest per minute, describes deforestation as “the biggest threat to biodiversity and climatic stability.”