Amazon Supply Chain and Logistics

Squiirrel connects the tree seed supply chain to regrow a sustainable world

Forests effectively combat global warming as massive carbon sinks that absorb more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than it releases, making them one of the most effective and low-cost strategies to combat global warming. However, the impacts of climate change are beginning to outpace the ability of forests to regenerate naturally. Projections from the Ecological Society of America forecast a 50% decline in regeneration potential as temperatures increase in the late twenty-first century.

Governments, researchers, and conservationists are driving tree-breeding programs to address this challenge. These groups are selecting and planting superior parent trees that are more resilient and tolerant to climate-related events such as reduced soil moisture, warmer temperatures, pest infestations, disease, and wildfires.

Many nonprofit organizations, corporations, and governments have also initiated large-scale efforts to plant billions, if not trillions, of trees by 2030. Canada’s 2 Billion Trees program and the World Economic Forum’s One Trillion Trees initiative headline a growing list of ambitious campaigns to take advantage of the natural regenerative power of forests by planting appropriate tree species in suitable locations.

The success of these global initiatives relies on seed collectors, growers, and tree planters. Natural resource stewardship is a manual and siloed process today. Seed collectors ensure seeds from healthy trees are collected and delivered to growers who care for the seedlings in incubation facilities. Planters distribute the young trees. These parties have a significant burden to meet the increased demand of seedlings required to meet the One Trillion Trees goal.

The United States is planning to reforest 26 million hectares with 30 billion trees by 2040 to help tackle climate change. The initiative will require 1.7 billion more tree seedlings every year, more than doubling the current nursery production levels. In this blog post, you will discover how a one-stop digital marketplace is efficiently connecting seed collectors and growers to accelerate and track these tree-planting initiatives.

Transforming the tree seed supply chain

The current supply chain for seeds and seedlings is assumed to be cheap, readily available, and adaptable. However, lack of communication and visibility across the supply chain limits players’ ability to plan for future demand. This supply chain is outdated and inefficient and needs to evolve to address current seed shortages and support future seed supplies. Many organizations that intend to plant the required number of trees are impacted by shortages and may be forced to settle for whichever seed stock is available.

WilderClimate’s Squiirrel application, currently launching in Canada, is an example of the work Accenture and AWS are collaborating on as part of the Nature Positive Accelerator. The Nature Positive Accelerator is a carbon emission reduction initiative to develop innovative technology solutions and is helping seed producers and growers.

The app streamlines the tree seed supply chain in three ways. First, Squiirrel enables the exchange of tree seeds between collectors and growers and builds efficient traceability and data collection for use across the supply chain. It also provides data transparency, education, and market accessibility, as well as increased sales and planning opportunities for long-term projects. Last, Squiirrel consolidates industry data to provide insights for informed decision-making and strategic industry action.

Enhancing the capacity for native seed collection

Various biological barriers affect the capacity to produce and collect adequate native seeds at the right time. These barriers include domestic supply chain impacts, seed variance by year, species, region, and the technical skills of collectors and growers.

Squiirrel improves the seed collection process, guiding collectors (new and old) through a qualified workflow that securely captures and stores the required collection information. It facilitates the trade of locally adapted seeds, honoring biodiversity and adhering to a framework that aligns with natural systems. Squiirrel also allows collectors to plan actions based on market demands for native seed collection and label, document, geotag, photograph, and track stock levels.

Developing improved markets for seed

Most nurseries buy seeds from collectors and propagate them for seedlings. Lack of labor and space to grow more seedlings when the demand is high are often a challenge and may lead to insufficient seed in storage to meet commitments. These seed shortages require a system to help growers plan for demand without worrying about the financial risk of unused seedlings being wasted. Squiirrel supports the market for seeds by enabling collectors and growers to collaborate to meet demand, especially when supply and demand are highly variable.

With the Squiirrel digital marketplace, collectors list their stock and make it available to the community on the app, facilitating seamless matching of demand and supply across regions. The trading platform populates a selection of available plants with images hosted in Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), an object storage service that offers industry-leading scalability, data availability, security, and performance. To moderate the image content, the app takes advantage of Amazon Rekognition, which offers pre-trained and customizable computer vision capabilities.

The platform enables growers to share seed demand to the marketplace through an easy and intuitive procurement process with the assurance of secure, accurate, and traceable data to verify seed sourcing. The app’s workflow streamlines and consolidates what, in the past, has been a multitude of disjointed efforts. It helps collectors and growers evaluate and share supply, connect with buyers and sellers, post or buy seeds, and trace the health of the seed throughout the growing process. These transactions can occur in the marketplace or privately between buyers and sellers. The following screenshots depict the seed marketplace app with images of different seeds and their availability.

Squiirrel App Screenshot

Improving traceability from collection to planting

Verifying that seed and stock are from native sources is not always possible due to the absence of mandatory certification programs. With Squiirrel, a QR code is generated for each seed lot collected, enabling the tracking of seeds from collection to planting. This ensures trust and traceability throughout the tree seed supply chain and improves outcomes.

This tracking data is captured and stored in Amazon DynamoDB, a fully managed, serverless, key-value NoSQL database with built-in security and continuous backups. The traceability feature also facilitates measuring ecological benefits and will, in the future, enable organizations to claim carbon credits and biodiversity credits.

The following screenshot depicts the traceability process. QR code implementation enables traceability of seed lots from collection to survivability. Over time, it will reveal which seeds are the most resilient across ecoregions, all of which are shifting due to climate change.

Traceability Process Screenshot

Building the app to champion biodiversity

With Squiirrel, information about each seed is logged in a backend database. Users can also search Squiirrel for particular seeds where uploaded and saved images can be analyzed and provide relevant results. Powered by AWS services such as Amplify, AWS AppSync, and DynamoDB, Squiirrel efficiently stores user-provided data and transfers it to the device. The following diagram shows the app’s reference architecture.

Squirrell app’s reference architecture

To build out the application front end, the team at Accenture used Amplify. This provides ease of use to growers and collectors, allowing them to scale up engagement, procurement, and traceability. Authentication is provided through Amazon Cognito so users have secure access to the Squiirrel application using a fully managed AWS service. AWS AppSync provides resources to build GraphQL APIs so that DynamoDB queries and AWS Lambda compute operations can be performed securely and scale according to demand.

All seed information is stored and encrypted in DynamoDB to provide horizontal scaling based on the number of queries. The underlying machine learning (ML) image recognition engine is powered by Amazon Rekognition to provide access to pre-training database image tags through a service manage by AWS. This design is seamlessly integrated using an event-driven architecture and provides the ability to increase resources and user reach without manually provisioning resources.

A key feature of this architecture is the use of AWS serverless technologies that feature automatic scaling, built-in high availability, and a pay-for-value billing model. The structure is further enhanced in the following ways:

  1. User sign-up and sign-in features, along with control access, are implemented using Amazon Cognito, which integrates with front-end and backend application resources.
  2. AWS AppSync combines data from databases and other backend services into a single GraphQL endpoint, providing secure seed lot querying capabilities to the authenticated mobile user.
  3. All seed lot transaction data are securely stored and retrieved from DynamoDB, a serverless key-value NoSQL database that can integrate with other AWS services to perform analytics or monitor trends and logs for enhanced security and traceability.
  4. Images of seed lots are stored and retrieved from Amazon S3, an object storage service with industry-leading scalability, availability, and configurability for fine-tuned access control.
  5. Amplify libraries connect the front end of the Squiirrell app with backend services like Amazon S3. This helps authenticated mobile users to upload and retrieve images of seed lots.
  6. All the business logic for Squiirrel is codified and executed using Lambda, a serverless event-driven compute service. Lambda is trigged by AWS Step Functions, which provide serverless workflow orchestration with built-in error handling and parallel processing. For example, to run the seed lot photo content moderation workflow, Step Functions triggers Lambda to execute the necessary code for this operation.
  7. To quickly add pre-trained computer vision capability for seed lot image content moderation, Amazon Rekognition is used to detect content that is inappropriate, unwanted, or offensive. This helps create a safer user experience and comply with local and global regulations.


Squiirrel is a one-stop digital marketplace that efficiently connects seed collectors and growers, accelerating our most promising climate change solution: planting healthy forests. In this post, we explained how Squiirrel ensures sufficient, locally adapted seeds are available in the market.

The app facilitates collaboration across various stakeholders, including governments, researchers, conservationists, and local communities. It connects the seed supply chain to help regrow a sustainable world. Squiirrel will expand the market for native seeds, improve traceability of seed origins, and enable smarter reforestation at a time when trees are a critical resource to fighting climate change and biodiversity loss.

This new app brings AWS, Accenture, and the Nature Positive Accelerator one step closer to the goal of incubating transformational technology solutions to advance nature-positive business. This mission includes addressing the challenges of water management, food transformation, traceability, and circularity and promoting nature-based solutions in a unified effort to combat climate change.

Reach out to the Wilder Climate team or visit the Wilder Climate Squiirrel app to join this initiative, and learn more about the Accenture AWS partnership to arrange a workshop to discuss agricultural supply chains or build your own sustainability platform.

Patti Carroll

Patti Carroll

Patti Carroll is a Senior Sustainability Solutions Lead with AWS’s global sustainability team. Previously, she was lead scientist with the Climate Corporation and has a PhD from the University of Washington.

Blaine Pearson

Blaine Pearson

Blaine Pearson has worked at the intersection of business, innovation, and creativity for the last two decades. In successive positions at DDB, Ogilvy, and TAXI, Blaine led projects for clients including Destination Canada, IBM, and Johnson & Johnson before opening her own agency, Dot Dot Dash. As the leader of the creative agency focused on “giving agency to good,” she has been responsible for developing marketing, creative, and advocacy campaigns for clients like Patagonia, Greenpeace, and Oceana. An optimistic nature enthusiast with an entrepreneur's heart, Blaine is also co-founder of several media companies, is actively involved in advising a suite of start-ups, and is Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of The Friends of Allan Gardens.

Shalabh Kumar Singh

Shalabh Kumar Singh

Shalabh Kumar Singh is principal director, technology thought leadership at Accenture. He leads research at the intersection of technology, business strategy, and sustainability. He has coauthored two books, several reports, and articles in leading journals, including Harvard Business Review, MIT Sloan Management Review, CMR Insights, and the Journal of Business Strategy.

Sundeep Ramachandran

Sundeep Ramachandran

Sundeep Ramachandran is a Senior Partner Solutions Architect and technical lead for the Global Sustainability Partner Segment at AWS. He works as an industry specialist and trusted advisor for AWS Partners tackling challenges like emissions management, supply chain traceability, decarbonization and net zero transition, material circularity, climate resilience, optimizing food-energy-water systems, and tracking ESG factors across multiple industries.

Vickie Losman

Vickie Losman

Vickie Losman is the Global Sustainability Lead for the Accenture AWS Business Group. In this role, Vicki advances and accelerates customer sustainability imperatives through innovative solutions built on AWS. Vickie has been with AWS for over 5 years, leading business development efforts with Accenture into the US federal and commercial markets. With over 20 years of experience in technology, working with customers to solve complex problems, she has directed this experience to focus on one of today’s biggest challenges. Vickie attended the University of Florida and resides in New York City.