Only AI can prevent forest fires with Allison Wolff from Vibrant Planet

Only AI can prevent forest fires with Allison Wolff from Vibrant Planet

Introduction (00:00:00)

  • Wildfires are becoming more intense due to overplanting, invasive insects, higher winds, and temperatures.
  • Vibrant Planet is a cloud-based planning and monitoring tool for adaptive land management.
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  • Vibrant Planet is a cloud-based planning and monitoring tool for adaptive land management.
  • It helps manage land by getting rid of undergrowth and brush to help feed the soil on the forest floor.
  • It uses machine learning to analyze data and provide insights for land management.

Vibrant Planet is modernizing land management (00:02:07)

  • Vibrant Planet is a science and technology platform that provides real-time scenario planning and monitoring for wildfire resilience and nature resilience.
  • Their customers include land managers, fire districts, counties, and other entities responsible for managing land and preventing wildfires.
  • The platform uses machine learning and data-driven systems to provide accurate and timely information on water sources, carbon, biodiversity, and community risks.
  • It facilitates collaboration among different stakeholders, helping them see each other's perspectives and understand the trade-offs of different plans.
  • Vibrant Planet's platform is helping to prioritize and deploy billions of dollars in funding from the infrastructure bill and the inflation reduction act for wildfire resilience and nature resilience.

Adapting land management to climate change (00:11:31)

  • Human activities, such as logging, grazing, and fire suppression, have drastically altered ecosystems in the Western US, leading to dense forests and increased risk of catastrophic wildfires.
  • AI can be used to mimic the role of beneficial fires by identifying areas where prescribed burns can be safely and effectively implemented, helping to prevent forest fires.
  • AI can quantify ecosystem benefits, which can help create markets around nature-based climate solutions and create a whole economy around resilience by providing predictive analytics for climate-smart wood commodities, biochar, and crops.

Scaling nature-based climate solutions (00:16:45)

  • Allison Wolff spent most of her career in Silicon Valley working on climate solutions at companies like Google and Facebook.
  • She became interested in nature-based climate solutions after working with Paul Hawken, author, and leader in the sustainability and climate movement.
  • Nature-based climate solutions are ready to scale and offer co-benefits such as hosting biodiversity, providing clean water, and creating beautiful places for recreation.
  • Before launching Vibrant Planet, Allison Wolff ran her own nonprofit.
  • The transition from running a nonprofit to a venture-backed company has involved many lessons, ups, and downs.

The benefits of a for profit company (00:20:16)

  • Allison Wolff, founder of Vibrant Planet, shifted her focus from regenerative AI to forest fire prevention due to the urgency of the catastrophic fire problem.
  • She established a public benefit corporation with a hybrid structure, combining data and technology to provide decision support and monitoring tools for various sectors.
  • The nonprofit arm of Vibrant Planet acts as a data commons, making fine-scale vegetation data publicly available to advance scientific research.
  • Key individuals like Neil Hunt, former Chief Product Officer at Netflix, supported Vibrant Planet's mission due to shared concerns about forest fires and climate change.
  • Vibrant Planet collaborates with diverse groups, including the government, firefighters, and indigenous tribes, to address forest fire prevention effectively.
  • The company faced challenges due to the bureaucratic nature of the industry but later gained traction and attracted investors like Microsoft and City Impact Fund.
  • Different groups have different needs and approaches to forest fire prevention, and there can be distrust of new solutions, making collaboration challenging.

The importance of Indigenous knowledge in land management (00:30:00)

  • Collaboration between landowners, tribes, and organizations like the American Forest Foundation is essential for effective forest fire prevention and management.
  • The new mature and old growth bill mandates equal consideration for Western science and Indigenous knowledge in planning for the protection and management of old growth forests in the United States.
  • Tribes are actively sharing their knowledge about beneficial fire management through programs like the burn boss training program and Vibrant Planet's platform, which helps tribes manage their data securely and reconnect with traditional land management practices.
  • Vibrant Planet's platform is expanding to manage water, biodiversity, carbon, and fire across the Western US states and potentially internationally in regions like Greece, Portugal, and Chile.
  • Vibrant Planet is exploring nature accounting and the task force on nature disclosures to connect corporations to ecosystems and understand the impacts of their investments.
  • AI-powered forest fire prevention systems are being developed by Vibrant Planet, with pilot programs beginning this year.

Host discussion (00:35:01)

  • Vibrant Planet is developing an AI platform to prevent forest fires in collaboration with indigenous tribes and other stakeholders.
  • The platform addresses biodiversity and land management in the United States, considering diverse environments and changing needs.
  • Training the AI model is challenging due to the complexity of biodiversity, but it has the potential to scale and provide valuable insights for land management.
  • AI can effectively prevent forest fires by providing real-time data and analysis, and advanced technology like robots and AI can monitor biodiversity and identify potential issues.
  • Guest speaker Allison Wolff has extensive experience working with major tech companies like Google, Apple, Facebook, and Netflix.

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