Our approach

Climate change is pushing our planet to a critical point. But nature offers a promising solution. New research shows that natural climate solutions—conserving, restoring & improving stewardship in ecosystems—can drastically reduce carbon emissions in the next decade. And investing in nature has tons of co-benefits: protecting biodiversity, enhancing social and ecological resilience, and reinforcing our personal connection to nature.

At Salo, we strive to accelerate the pace and scale of investments in natural climate solutions, using technology to identify conservation opportunities, monitor ecosystem health & predict environmental change. And we take a holistic approach to ecosystem mapping—climate, society & ecology are all connected.

We use global tech to co-design local ecological mapping and planning tools that help governments and landowners understand and manage their environment.

And because mapping is a fundamentally political action, we actively engage in public outreach and in policy discussions on how to use, and regulate, technology for environmental management.

Technology & science

Using satellites, AI & ecological expertise to improve our understanding of forests

Patterns in satellite images resemble biological cells—like we're mapping earth with a microscope.
We map forests by applying cutting edge analytics to high resolution satellite data. It takes specific scientific and technical expertise—and massive computational resources—to process and analyze these data. It also takes ecological expertise to transform satellite data into ecological metrics of forest health.

Artificial intelligence is crucial to our work. It can identify patterns in complex data—and nature is the epitome of a complex system. By combining satellites and AI, we can precisely map forests at unprecedented scales. Using our custom analytics, we can see the forest in entirely new ways. The images below show AI-derived patterns in satellite data, revealing how trees in a forest are distributed like cells in an organism.

Landscape mapping

Making visible the connections between climate, ecology & society

Tree height from airborne LiDAR (left) and from Salo's AI (right). Drag the slider to compare layers.
We live in the space age with unprecedented access to global data and technology. Salo uses these tools to map the impacts of environmental change, including forest growth and death, wildfire risk, timber harvests, carbon storage & shifts in species habitat. Until recently, it was hard to map these patterns precisely—the data was too coarse. But thanks to recent innovation, we’re no longer limited in this way.

You can see a demo of our mapping system above. On the left are tree height maps from airborne LiDAR, collected in bits and pieces over seven years in the Sierra Nevada ecoregion. On the right are Salo’s AI-derived height maps, covering the full ecoregion, which can be updated every year at pennies on the dollar compared to repeat airborne flights. Zoom in to see the details in each map.

What we're building

A conservation mapping system based on global data

The world’s forests are stressed—by human activity, drought, hot weather, wildfire & pest outbreaks—and these stresses will increase under climate change. There are feedbacks between these processes: droughts increase wildfire severity, and severe wildfires increase emissions and pollute water resources.

With today's data, we have an opportunity to step back and evaluate the connections between the patterns and drivers of change. In mapping, we distinguish six themes:

ecosystem patterns—the physical state of the forest, like species composition or tree density.

ecosystem processes—how forests cycle resources, like water, nutrients & carbon.

ecosystem services—the values provided by forests to people, like regulating water quality and reducing flood risk to downstream cities, providing pollinators to nearby agriculture, and offering recreational opportunities for families.

patterns of change—including threats to the processes and services provided by forests, like pests or fire suppression.

drivers of change—the processes that facilitate or perpetuate patterns of change, like climate change or property development.

management activities—the actions on landscapes that mitigate drivers or problems, like forest thinning or preventative burns.

Our monitoring approach is designed to comprehensively map these processes—and we plan to use this technology to help design & implement natural climate solutions.