Case study: Microsoft –
Tree Potential Project
Tea & Water developed an innovative, interactive campaign for Microsoft in collaboration with scientists from SilviaTerra, a leading company in forestry and biometrics. The Tree Potential Project looks at forests across the U.S. through the eyes of Microsoft AI and lets users anywhere plant the right trees, in the right forests, to help fight climate change. Here we explain more about it all and how you can take action too. The campaign, for Earth Day, ran to highlight Microsoft’s ongoing commitment to scientists and companies that are working to combat climate change.
Climate change is a real threat to life as we know it. With temperatures increasing, catastrophic weather events are becoming more frequent and more destructive. Sea levels are rising, causing in many cases irreversible loss of habitable land. And the sixth extinction is also accelerated by the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere. The effects of climate change could reach beyond some very dark scientific predictions. And in these times it would be good to find an ally, living or engineered, to help us reverse the symptoms of our century-long addiction to fossil fuels.
It turns out such friends and allies have been here all along. And now they need our help: trees.
They are all around us. And even when we don’t think of them, they are hard at work, cleaning the air we breathe, filtering the water we drink and cooling the climate for us and the planet. When trees grow together as a forest, their powers multiply. Even forests that seem far away from us, can still have a very direct influence on the quality of our lives. And they naturally create complex ecosystems that provide habitat for animals and many other living things so important for the survival of the planet.
But many of the forests alive today are not the forests they could be under ideal conditions. There is potential for forests and individual trees to grow better, live better and to create a better world for all. Until now, surveying the state of a forest and predicting its potential has been hard work that needed to be done by hand, using primitive tools and often under difficult conditions.
SilviaTerra, a company leading in forestry and biometrics, has worked with Microsoft AI technology to create census tools that translate terabytes of satellite imagery into data that can be used by scientists and forest managers. These experts can then make decisions on behalf of specific forests and help improve the balance of those ecosystems.
Working with Microsoft and forestry experts SilviaTerra, Tea & Water created the Tree Potential Project. The project is all about new ways to make that AI-interpreted data available for the first time to a wider audience and allowing that audience to take action. We launched the Tree Potential Project for Earth Day 2019, with a supporting campaign across social media and Microsoft-owned channels. The project allows users from across the United States to find a forest near them and to understand what is needed for that forest to reach its full potential. Through a global partner, The Nature Conservancy, users are able to take action to help plant the right trees in the right forests.
Thanks to the Tree Potential Project campaign and the newly developed, custom data visualisation, The Nature Conservancy received donations in a matter of days that will allow it to plant hundreds of thousands of trees where they are most needed.
And the project continues: users who are interested in learning more about their local forests have access to a level of information not previously available to anyone. They can now understand the percentages of species in these complex ecosystems. And with these in-depth stories, they are also able to understand how any adjustments to the forests can have a direct and lasting impact. From securing the survival of species to ensuring a high water quality in metropolitan areas like New York.
The following selection of images are examples rendered from the live forest data used as part of the campaign, organised by tree species density from a specific forest, thanks to Microsoft AI and Microsoft Azure. While the Tree Potential Project campaign is no longer running, the website with the actual forest data and the related stories is live and can be accessed here.
Users are still able to donate trees to be planted in forests.
We are currently working on making the data available to an even wider audience and to add more forests from around the world to the campaign.