Wildfires are getting worse. Check out the pitch deck that landed climate startup Vibrant Planet $15 million from backers like Microsoft to use AI to manage the risk.

  • Climate startup Vibrant Planet wants to help landowners manage wildfire risk.
  • The startup has raised $15 million from Ecosystem Integrity Fund, with participation from Microsoft.
  • Check out the 22-slide pitch deck it used to raise the Series A.

A California-based startup that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to manage land and assess climate risk has raised $15 million in Series A funding.

Vibrant Planet, which was founded in 2020, provides a data platform to assist landowners in determining how to restore ecosystems and manage the risk of wildfires.

Wildfires have long wracked communities around the world, but rising global temperatures have fueled the fire. Record heat in Europe fueled fires; Canada had its worst wildfire season on record, while Chile had its second. This summer, Lahaina, Maui, was also engulfed in flames.

According to Vibrant Planet CEO Allison Wolff, in addition to rising temperatures, poor land planning and risk mitigation strategies are to blame for raging wildfires. She believes that controlled or “good” fire could be one of the solutions. A controlled fire is a pre-planned conflagration that, for example, can reduce dead leaves and limbs and keep a wildfire from spreading out of control.

Vibrant Planet creates 3D maps of forests by combining LiDAR and satellite data to generate recommendations based on priority, economic and ecological return, and risk-mitigation potential. Its management recommendations could include controlled fire, rewilding, or forest thinning, which also helps to protect against wildfires.

“In about 53% of land on Earth, ecosystems are fire adapted,” he said. “That means they cycle carbon, cycle nutrients, and regenerate in this manner.” In many coniferous forests around the world, they only regenerate and reseed when a fire passes through and unlocks the seed from the pine cone – they’re completely adapted to fire.”

Today’s problem is that many historic forests have been cleared for roads and buildings, while the use of fire for management has fallen out of favor. As a result, trees have grown back close together, often dominated by different species that are less fire adapted, according to Wolff.

“As a result, you get a lot of fuel buildup.” “There was a lot of brush, down branches, and baby trees that would have died because the forest keeps the right number of trees per acre,” she explained.

In addition to providing fuel for wildfires, densely packed trees compete for resources such as water and sunlight, causing them to become unhealthy and disease-prone, she added. This is exacerbated by the stresses imposed on nature by climate change and rising temperatures. As a result, her company recommends mechanically thinning trees and using controlled fire as a solution where appropriate. It is “pulling trees out to save forests,” she explained.

Wolff, a former Netflix marketing head and eBay and Google sustainability advisor, cofounded the company with spatial ecologist Scott Conway, Netflix’s former chief product officer Neil Hunt, and ex-Lyft and Meta data lead Guy Bayes.

Customers range from private landowners, utilities, and indigenous tribes to NGOs, fire districts, and local and national governments.

Real-time scenario planning is included in the land management platform. Because of its monitoring capabilities, it always knows how much carbon and water is in a forest to determine its health, according to Wolff. It is also using predictive analytics to suggest uses for forest material, such as turning biomass into biochar for carbon sequestration. The majority of the new fund will be used to expand the company’s predictive analytics and climate risk models.

It also wishes to assist customers in rewilding and increasing biodiversity: Scientists at Vibrant Planet are currently mapping where beavers live and what habitats might work for them in the future.

Ecosystem Integrity Fund provided the cash injection, bringing the company’s total raised to $34 million. The round was also attended by Microsoft’s Climate Innovation Fund, Citi Ventures, Day One Ventures, SIG Climate, and Globivest. NASA and the USDA Smart Commodities Program have also awarded grants to the startup.

Below is a redacted pitch deck with 22 slides.

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