Wildsense / Convelio: an Interview with Thibault Sorret

An interview with Thibault Sorret, CEO and Co-founder of Wildsense, on regenerating carbon sinks, financing restoration projects, and the nuanced approach to mitigating the environmental crisis.

We are so pleased to announce Convelio’s partnership with Wildsense. Tell us more about the company, why, and how it was built?

The Wildsense story starts on a family trip to Panama in 2018. The patchwork of abandonned, deforested pastureland left me feeling deeply saddened, but determined. I made it my life's mission to help restore the world's degraded lands. In 2020, I co-founded Wildsense alongside Priscille Raynaud, with a mission to restore 1% of the planet. We started to focus our efforts on using satellite imagery to understand forest health and won contracts with forestry cooperatives, the French Space Agency, and the EU Commission.

In 2021, we started using technology to certify restoration projects. Our focus was to bring high quality projects that were too small to be certified by other certifiers, onto the Voluntary Carbon Markets. Each project we certify goes through a rigorous selection and risk assessment process. Once the project is approved, Wildsense uses a combination of satellite imagery and field data to verify the integrity of each ton of carbon generated.

Thibault Sorret

Thibault Sorret, CEO and Co-founder of Wildsense

What are some of the biggest challenges that you see in the climate space at the moment?

At the moment, one of the challenges we see in the climate space is a myopic focus on carbon. The environmental crisis we’re facing is multifaceted, and requires a nuanced, systemic approach. When we certify a project, we go beyond carbon and look at a project’s impacts on biodiversity and the livelihoods of local communities. We view them as an integral part of a project’s design, not “nice to haves”.

Please can you tell us more about how you are innovating  in the climate space?

We’re facing a massive challenge. According to the IPCC, we’re reaching a point where reducing carbon emissions will not be enough to reach the Paris Agreement and stay within a 1.5°C target. It’s crucial to both massively reduce our emissions and invest heavily in regenerating carbon sinks around the world.

The Voluntary Carbon Market is a great way to finance these projects, but the market is still young and faces numerous challenges. Project certification is a major bottleneck, taking up to 3-5 years to approve projects. Moreover, the process is prohibitively expensive for project developers - smaller projects typically can’t qualify for certification simply due to their size.

Thanks to cutting-edge technology, we can certify high quality projects of any size, faster and more accurately. Our satellite imagery, AI models, and field app allow us to check in on projects every three months, giving us insights on how projects are doing with unprecedented accuracy and frequency.

What project are you currently working on that is exciting for you and the team?

Using satellite imagery and machine learning models, our teams are able to identify land use at a 10-meter resolution. Using these models, our data team is working on a map to assess the global restoration potential of small-scale projects. This project raises several challenges for our team and will push the limits of our models.

We hope that by publishing this map, we can help project developers identify new areas to restore faster than ever before.

What are your areas of focus for the next 5 years?

Our focus for the next five years is to certify over one million hectares of high-quality restoration projects. Our hope is that by certifying these projects, they’ll be able to find financing on the Voluntary Carbon Markets. It’s an ambitious target, but we’ve got a fantastic team that’s up for the challenge!

You can learn more about Wildsense and their projects at https://wildsense.co/

November 15, 2022