Have you found yourself looking at any empty Christmas trees this year? Fret not! Jump online and receive the gift of a lifetime from Stanford University. They're offering a free training course on advanced forest monitoring software, and the clincher is that if you finish the course, a licence for the software is yours to keep.
Carnegie Landsat Analysis System-lite (or, CLASlite) is a deforestation and forest degradation analysis software package used by over 180 organisations worldwide. It converts data from up to eight different satellite sensors into detailed deforestation and forest disturbance maps, enabling users to detect and track changes in forest cover in areas as small as 0.25 acre. This goes above and beyond the capacity offered by traditional satellite methods and, as such, has recently been used to demonstrate gold mining in Peru's Amazon has contributed to the annual rate of forest loss tripling over the past decade.
The new online course hosted by Stanford University Online Learning will bring significant benefits to forest conservation and management efforts. It is the first of its kind to be offered online and free-of-charge, and uses video-based lessons, guided exercises, a forum and case studies for expert to entry level users. Such a democratisation of forest monitoring will ensure more organisations and individuals can tackle the issue the world over.
More information on the course is available here: http://claslite.carnegiescience.edu.