Google Earth Outreach recently partnered with World Resources Institute, an online forest monitoring system, to launch Global Forest Watch, an online mapping initiative which provides near real-time data about deforestation.
The interactive map provides a detailed snapshot of forest health the world over, allowing users to analyse specific pockets of the planet and how forests in those regions have changed over time; fluctuations in forest cover as well as what forests in each area are used for (logging, mining etc). Google Maps provides a resolution of up to 30 metres, offering high quality coverage of each area. Whether it's tracking forest loss due to natural disasters or surveying the impact of the logging industry, the near real-time satellite imagery is designed to help authorities tackle changes in biodiversity much faster and more effectively.
The World Resources Institute and Google Maps already have a strong record in canvassing deforestation. In an article on the BBC, Professor Matthew Hansen from the University of Maryland rated Google Earth as one of the top mapping tools for forest change given its global consistency and local relevance, with one of Google Earth's online tools clocking a loss in global forest cover from 2000 to 2012 that equated to the size of Mongolia.
A very beautiful article by Steve Zwich, titled, ‘Enemies Of The Forest Beware: The Whole World Is Watching’ states that Global Forest Watch will soon be a great application for monitoring forests around the world, stating that "...the platform combines data gathered annually at a resolution of 30 meters with data gathered monthly at a resolution of 500 meters and harvests the power of cloud computing provided by Google to interpret the data and generate trustworthy images of forestland around the world. When forest loss alerts are detected, a network of partners and citizens around the world can mobilise to take action."
The tool shows where forests are disappearing as well where forests are growing back in order to give a 360° perspective on the environmental concerns of the world. Check out the video below for further introduction to Global Forest Watch, head over to their website or start exploring Google Earth Outreach here.