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Global Forest Watch initiative

February 24, 2014 2 comments

The World Resources Institute (WRI) has recently announced the launch of Global Forest Watch (GFW), a dynamic forest monitoring system that provides aims to provide ‘timely and reliable’ information about the state of the world’s forests. Using a combination of satellite imagery, open access data and crowd sourced information, GFW builds on earlier projects such as the Forest Frontiers Initiative and the Forest Atlases, one of the case studies we discussed in The GIS Guide to Public Domain Data, which promoted the sustainable management of forest resources.

One of the big issues for monitoring forest reserves has been, given the often inaccessible locations, by the time harmful and illegal logging was reported it was invariably too late to stop the deforestation. GFW aims to provide near real-time information on forest clearing activities so local authorities, governments, global business and the general public have access to the latest, and hopefully most accurate, status of forest reserves. The listed data sources include:

  • Forest change ( many derived from MODIS data)
  • Forest cover
  • Conservation
  • Forest Use

The GFW web site provides access to a global map based on the University of Maryland Tree Cover Loss and Gain data.

The GFW site also provides a time-lapse run through of the last twelve years change in tree cover.

Global Forest Watch  forest change

Global Forest Watch – forest change

Although the predominance of forest cover loss (pink) as opposed to gain (blue) in many areas tells a depressingly familiar tale, providing public access to the latest information like this should help shine a light on illegal logging activities.