The World Resources Institute (WRI), Google, UNEP and a group of more than 40 partners on Thursday launched Global Forest Watch (GFW), a dynamic online forest monitoring and alert system that empowers people everywhere to better manage forests. For the first time, Global Forest Watch unites the latest satellite technology, open data, and crowdsourcing to guarantee access to timely and reliable information about forests.
“Businesses, governments and communities desperately want better information about forests. Now, they have it,” said Dr. Andrew Steer, President and CEO, WRI. “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 recognised for their stewardship.”
According to data from the University of Maryland and Google, the world lost 2.3 million square kilometers (230 million hectares) of tree cover from 2000 to 2012 equivalent to 50 soccer fields of forest lost every minute of every day for 12 years. The countries with the highest tree cover loss are: Russia, Brazil, Canada, United States, and Indonesia.
Global Forest Watch — Monitoring Forests in Near Real Time, deforestation visualized:
(source: World Resources Institute YouTube channel)
“Managing the world’s forest resources is today both a local and global undertaking, and technology has provided Global Forest Watch with an unprecedented opportunity to connect not only information and data but people, whether they be forest managers, businesses and private sector, or consumers across the globe. This is a great example of a community coming together and providing the world with a truly groundbreaking and pioneering product. Hopefully in a few years’ time we will be able to monitor the impact and the results in terms of what actually happens on the ground that will be both a litmus test and I think the greatest affirmation that the time for this idea had come,” said Achim Steiner, UN Under Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director.
“We are honoured to partner with WRI and power the Global Forest Watch platform with Google cloud technology, massive data and turbo-powered science,” said Rebecca Moore, Engineering Manager, Google Earth Outreach and Earth Engine. “GFW is an ambitious vision, and yet it’s both timely and achievable given WRI’s knowledge of environmental science and policy, strong partnerships, and the high-performance Google cloud technology that we’re donating to this initiative.”
High-resolution: Annual tree cover loss and gain data for the entire globe at a resolution of 30 meters, available for analysis and download.
Near-real time: Monthly tree cover loss data for the humid tropics at a resolution of 500 meters.
Speed: Cloud computing, provided by Google, multiplying the speed at which data can be analysed.
The crowd: GFW unites high resolution information from satellites with the power of crowdsourcing.
Free and easy to use: GFW is free to all and no technical expertise is needed.
Alerts: When forest loss alerts are detected, a network of partners and citizens around the world can mobilise to take action.
Analytical Tools: Layers showing boundaries of protected areas worldwide; logging, mining, palm oil and other concessions; daily forest fire alerts from NASA; agricultural commodities; and intact forest landscapes and biodiversity hotspots.