Global Forest Watch website reveals disturbing deforestation in ‘near-real time’


By Max Sonnenberg, The Space Reporter | February 23, 2014

Global Forest Watch website reveals disturbing deforestation in ‘near-real time’

Data from the University of Maryland and Google reveal that the world lost 2.3 million square kilometers of tree cover from 2000 to 2012.

The World Resources Institute (WRI), Google and more than 40 other partners launched the Global Forest Watch (GFW) website on Wednesday. GFW brings together the latest satellite technology, open data and crowdsourcing to produce “near-real time, reliable, and actionable data” about what is taking place in forests worldwide. According to the BBC News, the WRI spearheaded the development of GFW using millions of high-resolution photos from NASA’s Landsat program.

“Businesses, governments and communities desperately want better information about forests. Now, they have it,” posited Dr. Andrew Steer, President and CEO, WRI, in a statement. “Global Forest Watch is a near-real time monitoring platform that will fundamentally change the way people and businesses manage forests. From now on, the bad guys cannot hide and the good guys will be recognized for their stewardship.”

Fires, clear-cutting for agriculture, ranching and development, unsustainable logging for timber, and deterioration due to climate change are all forms of deforestation, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

Data from the University of Maryland and Google reveal that the world lost 2.3 million square kilometers of tree cover from 2000 to 2012 — this is the same as losing 50 soccer fields of forest every minute of every day for 12 years. Russia, Brazil, Canada, United States and Indonesia are the countries with the highest tree cover loss.

The GFW website is expected to have a multitude of uses. Financial institutions, for example, can better determine if the companies they invest in sufficiently evaluate forest-related risks. Purchasers of commodities like palm oil, soy and timber can better observe compliance with laws, sustainability commitments and standards. Plus, suppliers can conclusively show that their products are “deforestation free.”

The GFW website caters to more than just financial institutions, purchasers and suppliers. The website will also support indigenous communities, who can add alerts and photos when intrusion takes place on their lands. In addition, NGOs can determine deforestation hotspots, take action and collect evidence to hold government and companies accountable for their actions. Governments will be also able to use the GFW website to create more effective policies, reinforce forest laws, identify illegal forest clearing and meet conservation and climate goals.

What do you think of this new website? Will shining the spotlight on deforestation lead to any viable solutions for stemming the loss of forest cover worldwide?


Have something to say? Let us know in the comments section or send an email to the author. You can share ideas for stories by contacting us here.

Comments
Seven planetary missions receive NASA extensions Seven planetary missions receive NASA extensions
Laurel Kornfeld - Sep 05, 2014

Milky Way part of newly discovered supercluster Milky Way part of newly discovered supercluster
Andrew McDonald - Sep 04, 2014

Life after NASA: Astronauts' careers after returning to Earth Life after NASA: Astronauts' careers after returning to Earth
Andrew McDonald - Sep 03, 2014

ISS to get first ever 3D printer in space ISS to get first ever 3D printer in space
Laurel Kornfeld - Sep 02, 2014

Geckos sent to space in Russian sex experiment return dead Geckos sent to space in Russian sex experiment return dead
Laurel Kornfeld - Sep 02, 2014

New cryotank passes NASA tests New cryotank passes NASA tests
Andrew McDonald - Sep 02, 2014

Mars to be prominent in September evening sky Mars to be prominent in September evening sky
Laurel Kornfeld - Sep 01, 2014

Flash memory on Opportunity rover computer to be reformatted Flash memory on Opportunity rover computer to be reformatted
Laurel Kornfeld - Sep 01, 2014

Early galaxy 'Sparky' was a star factory Early galaxy 'Sparky' was a star factory
Andrew McDonald - Aug 29, 2014

NASA’s “Swarmies” tested for use in space NASA’s “Swarmies” tested for use in space
Andrew McDonald - Aug 29, 2014

ESA observatory catches white dwarf going supernova ESA observatory catches white dwarf going supernova
Andrew McDonald - Aug 29, 2014

Researchers detect neutrinos in the Sun's core Researchers detect neutrinos in the Sun's core
Laurel Kornfeld - Aug 29, 2014

Spitzer telescope observes colliding asteroids around young star Spitzer telescope observes colliding asteroids around young star
Laurel Kornfeld - Aug 29, 2014

NASA’s Space Launch System moves toward development stage NASA’s Space Launch System moves toward development stage
Andrew McDonald - Aug 27, 2014

Martian rock deemed unsuitable for Curiosity rover's drilling Martian rock deemed unsuitable for Curiosity rover's drilling
Andrew McDonald - Aug 27, 2014

Telescopes capture unprecedented view of early colliding galaxies Telescopes capture unprecedented view of early colliding galaxies
Andrew McDonald - Aug 26, 2014

Five possible landing spots chosen for Rosetta probe Five possible landing spots chosen for Rosetta probe
Laurel Kornfeld - Aug 26, 2014

Thigh bone on Mars? NASA weighs in Thigh bone on Mars? NASA weighs in
Ross Cronkrite - Aug 26, 2014

Fermilab experiment questions nature of the universe Fermilab experiment questions nature of the universe
Laurel Kornfeld - Aug 26, 2014

NASA may delay commercial contract award after failed SpaceX launch NASA may delay commercial contract award after failed SpaceX launch
Laurel Kornfeld - Aug 26, 2014

NASA restores Voyager's historic footage of Neptune's strange moon Triton NASA restores Voyager's historic footage of Neptune's strange moon Triton
Ross Cronkrite - Aug 26, 2014

Pluto-bound probe crosses orbit of Neptune Pluto-bound probe crosses orbit of Neptune
Laurel Kornfeld - Aug 25, 2014

SpaceX Falcon 9 flew with 3D-printed component SpaceX Falcon 9 flew with 3D-printed component
Andrew McDonald - Aug 22, 2014

High resolution satellite launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base High resolution satellite launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base
Laurel Kornfeld - Aug 22, 2014

Tiny Peruvian satellite released from ISS Tiny Peruvian satellite released from ISS
Laurel Kornfeld - Aug 22, 2014

Rare black hole confirmed using light oscillations Rare black hole confirmed using light oscillations
Andrew McDonald - Aug 22, 2014

Russian space official claims plankton grew on exterior of ISS Russian space official claims plankton grew on exterior of ISS
Andrew McDonald - Aug 22, 2014

In ancient star, scientists find material from early universe In ancient star, scientists find material from early universe
Laurel Kornfeld - Aug 22, 2014

Boeing meets deadline for designing commercial spacecraft Boeing meets deadline for designing commercial spacecraft
Laurel Kornfeld - Aug 21, 2014