Google offers bird's-eye view of global deforestation

New website offers a view of "near-real-time" deforestation.
By Brooks Hays  |  Feb. 20, 2014 at 4:21 PM
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WASHINGTON, Feb. 20 (UPI) -- A new website called Global Forest Watch allows users to watch and track deforestation all over the world -- like Google Earth, but leveraged with deforestation data and outfitted with curated maps and in-depth reporting.

The site is the product of a partnership between Google, World Resources Institute, University of Maryland, and a number of other environmental organizations.

The site is powered by Google Earth Engine, Google Maps Engine, satellite imagery, and a range of open source data. Perhaps most impressive is the up-to-date imaging the site provides. Replenished with fresh deforestation data every month, the site will be able to detect "changes in forest cover in near-real-time."

In a blog post, Google announced that it hopes the new website will help users learn about "where, when, and why forests are disappearing." The World Resources Institute hopes the site's "decision-relevant information" will improve forest management.

Users can mine deforestation data going back to 2000. They can also zoom in on specific geographical locations for great details, as well as draw lines and use other tools to customize their own maps.

The world lost more than 500 million acres of forest over the last decade, and just a tiny portion of that has been replanted. Environmental scientists say replenishing forests is a key strategy for slowing global warming, as CO2-breathing trees help sequester carbon and keep it out of the atmosphere.

[Global Forest Watch] [Google]

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