Ajna startup: Four Kerala boys use drones to combat illegal logging

As per the analysis, rampant logging is one of the major causes of deforestation world over and 90 per cent of logging is illegal.

Published: 08th July 2018 06:10 AM  |   Last Updated: 08th July 2018 06:10 AM   |  A+A-

The 25 startup finalists of the Global Impact Challenge, jointly organised by the Kerala Startup Mission and the US-based Singularity University, with M Sivasankar, IT secretary, at Technopark

Express News Service

TIRUVANANTHAPURAM :  Illegal logging and deforestation play major roles in climate change and greenhouse gas emissions world over. Despite enacting many laws against illegal logging, governments across the world have not been able to effectively stop it. An innovative idea conceived by Ajna, a startup formed by four Thiruvananthapuram-based youths, proposes to combat illegal logging in forests using autonomous drones, deep learning, and blockchain technologies. The idea was selected by the Singularity University of the US to provide mentoring and exposure. Ajna pitched the idea in the Global Impact Challenge 2018, organised by Kerala Startup Mission in association with SU. 

Jikku Jose, who presented the idea at the meet, told Express it was conceived to provide a meaningful way to mitigate the impact of the climate change. As per the analysis, rampant logging is one of the major causes of deforestation world over and 90% of logging is illegal. Further, illegal logging accounts for 10% of carbon emissions. But the vastness of forest region and the difficult terrain often make it difficult for authorities to effectively stop illegal logging. Further, fraudulent reporting of illegal activities and tampering of the reports maintained by local authorities add to the challenge. 

In this backdrop, Ajna proposes to implement autonomous monitoring of tree cover and record regions of forests on a blockchain-based asset tracker to mitigate illegal logging. Ajna proposes a four-step process - Scan, detect, investigate and report - to combat the menace.  Drones will fly over designated areas at regular intervals and capture video footages using flight control.

And then deep learning is used to detect a change in tree covers overtimes. When significant changes are detected, a silent drone would be dispatched to fly at low altitude and gather more detailed footage of the affected area. Apart from confirming the loss of tree cover, the incidents will then be recorded in the blockchain and authorities would be informed, Jikku said. 

Ajna estimates it would cost Rs 7,000 to maintain a square kilometer of forest. Considering the depth of the forests in Kerala, it would require Rs 8 crore to secure forest assets under the project.
Ajna estimates forests across the country could be secured for one-fifth of the annual budget of the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC). It would require only Rs 28,000 crore or $4 billion to secure the world’s forest assets, Jikku said.


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