Pachama: Restoring the World's Forests Via Carbon Offsetting Marketplace

Using remote sensing and machine learning technologies, the platform allows companies to invest in verified carbon offset projects and fight deforestation.

15.01.2020 | by Reve Fisher
Photo by Cristofer Jeschke on Unsplash
Photo by Cristofer Jeschke on Unsplash

Carbon offsetting allows individuals and companies to invest in projects to help “offset” their own carbon footprints. Usually based in developing countries, these carbon offset schemes often aim to minimise future carbon emissions, as explained by Duncan Clark in The Rough Guide to Green Living.  

After a failed business endeavour, serial entrepreneur Diego Saez-Gil took a trip to South America to do a bit of soul searching. During a trip through the Amazon rain forest in Peru, he saw first-hand the effects of deforestation—in a region that represented an immense carbon dioxide offset for the planet.

“There are about one billion hectares on the planet that could be reforested,” he said in an interview with TechCrunch.

He then founded Pachama—the first carbon offsetting platform to use machine learning and remote sensing technologies to verify and monitor carbon captured by forests around the world. Through the marketplace, companies can support verified carbon offset projects with a focus on reforestation.

“We believe that protecting and restoring the forests represents the most effective solution to recapture carbon from the atmosphere and reverse climate change,” the startup explains on its website. “We believe that carbon offsetting is a powerful way to drive funds to the right projects.”

Pachama’s machine learning algorithms analyse satellite images of forests to provide accurate estimations of carbon storage and capture to further verify its projects. Its remote sensing tools and dashboard increase visibility and transparency for users.

Pachama interface

Pachama’s dashboard with remote sensing tools

The company’s machine learning models have a 97.5 percent confidence level at estimating carbon stocks in forests of New England with a less than 1.5 per cent error—an unprecedented level of accuracy for forest remote sensing.

Pachama currently has 23 forest projects throughout the Western hemisphere—three in the Amazon rain forest in Brazil and Peru and the rest in the United States.

“Currently only two per cent of funding for climate change solutions goes to forest restoration,” Gil said in a statement, as quoted by My Social Good News. “Meanwhile reforestation has the potential to drawdown two thirds of the extra CO₂ in the atmosphere, being one of the most meaningful solutions to climate change.

“Pachama was created to accelerate reforestation as a solution to climate change through carbon markets. By providing businesses with an easy and trust-worthy way to purchase data-verified forest carbon credits, we’re directing much-needed funds to reforestation projects globally.”

The company has raised $4.1 million to support the marketplace where companies can support carbon offset projects. Some of its supporters are former colleagues Ryan Graves and Chris Sacca, both of whom are associated with Uber. Graves has since become Pachama’s lead investor and new director.

“Pachama’s carbon credit marketplace is launching at a pivotal moment when awareness of the climate crisis is reaching an all-time high, and businesses are increasingly looking to become carbon neutral,” Graves said.

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