Deforestation Finally Accurately Mapped

deforestation being mapped for public

Global Forest Watch is the newly formed map that intends to accurately map deforestation across the globe. The World Resources Institute is working with a large number of groups to ensure that this project will be appropriately updated and increasing in value over time. Too much of the world is in danger to go unnoticed any longer.

The World Resources Institute launched its new website today (February 20, 2014). CEO of WRI, Andrew Steer, commented on the importance of the issue at hand. “More than half a billion people depend on [forests] for their jobs, food, their clean water.”

Steer brings with him some rather scary statistics about what has really been going on with the forests for the world. Every minute forests totaling the size of 50 soccer fields fall, which is why a constantly changing worldwide map of deforestation is necessary. Until now, such a task has been too difficult, but now with the help of NASA’s satellites (the Aqua and Terra) the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) makes it possible to accurately update deforestation.

The MODIS has the power necessary to yield updated maps of deforestation monthly. However, these images will get better over time thanks to the NASA Landsat program which updates the map with more finer-grained imagery. According to the director of the WRI Global Forest Initiative, Nigel Sizer, the Landsat updates with pictures that are 100 times more fine than the ordinary updates.

The truth is that until now it has been incredibly difficult to appropriately assess the deforestation around the world. In 2010 Nestlé tried to trace specific ingredients to ensure they were not using palm oil from companies that clear-cut forests. Most of the maps uncovered by the company appeared to be at least five years out of date.

The new deforestation map project combines University of Maryland geographer, Matt Hansen and a large number of partners including Google, to bring about a website that can accurately display deforestation changes. The map functions similarly to Google Maps and is easy to use says Sizer. “If you can find a friend’s address, you can easily use this map.” This map can be explored at globalforestwatch.org or look for the link down below.

Once on the site, users can receive updates about specific areas by outlining the areas they most want to know about. This site will bring with it information about some companies and locations that have not had knowledge open to the public before. Along side that, users can post stories or news directly to the site about deforestation. This deforestation map could really be a tool open to the world for bringing awareness into the future.

This Global Forest Watch is a project focusing on showing the public the truth about the life of forests in the world. Such a project would not be possible without the World Resources Institute, NASA, and Google. Will awareness reach the ears of those that do not listen? With the help of this new updating deforestation map, possibly.

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