Fiji National University (FNU) alumna Cema Olimaipa Talei is passionate about safeguarding and preserving our planet for future generations, hence she is encouraging more individuals to take a proactive role in advocating and combatting the impacts of climate change.
Talei, a Bachelor of Civil Engineering graduate was part of the Yadrava na Vanua team that won the Space for Planet Earth Challenge, receiving a $42,000 grant to continue research on carbon sequestration – a process of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide that seeks to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
The competition was organised by SpaceBase NZ in partnership with satellite company Planet. The goal of the Challenge was to use space technologies to find new and innovative solutions to address climate change issues in New Zealand, Australia, and the Pacific Islands.
The team comprised of students and academics from the Fiji National University, University of Fiji, University of the South Pacific, University of Western Australia, University of Canterbury and The Australian National University.
The 15 individuals formed sub-teams conducting research on mangrove forests, terrestrial forests and GIS and Remote Sensing.
Talei was part of the GIS & Remote Sensing sub-team in which she assisted in the analysis of upland forests on Viti Levu using satellite data.
Still reeling from the win, Talei said her motive is to help create more awareness of the important role each individual plays in creating a more sustainable environment.
Her participation in Yadrava na Vanua stemmed from a presentation she conducted on Land use and Land cover changes within the Ba Province at the Pacific Islands GIS and Remote Sensing User Conference last year.
“I took Remote sensing and GIS as an elective in my final year and was encouraged by Dr Joeli Varo our GIS lecturer to present,” she said.
“Fortunately for me, the Yadrava na Vanua team was also a part of this conference and had been doing their project within the Ba River catchment. They took interest in my presentation and the Team Lead Nick Metherall emailed me after the conference asking if I wanted to be a part of the team, which I gratefully accepted.”
The team research was titled How to Leverage Planet Datasets to Enhance Estimations of Spatio-Temporal Rates of Carbon Sequestration which focused on integrating satellite data on land cover types across Fiji with ground truth measurements, and refining carbon sequestration data with machine learning analysis of high-resolution satellite images from Planet to generate international standard levels of measurements, reporting, and carbon stock verification.
“We plan to further our research and also bring awareness to some villages and other stakeholders on carbon credits which they can also earn from.”
“I also wanted to mention the relevance of the work and that we as individuals can all be a part of creating a sustainable environment.”
Talei said she appreciates being part of a diverse group that shares a common goal and acknowledges the efforts of the organisers for creating a space that promotes innovation and sustainability.