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Global Forest Watch: a tool to protect the world’s forests

Each year between 10 and 15 million hectares of forest disappear – an unbelievable yet very real figure! Despite the alarming figures concerning deforestation, many of us are slow to wake up to the problem. Global Forest Watch’s (GFW) interactive map aims to illustrate this abstract information and make people realise the reality of deforestation through images.

The map on the GFW website is free, available to all and has allowed people to follow (in near real time) the world’s forest cover and how it is changing since 2014. GFW was launched in 1997 by the World Resources Institute (WRI). Many groups have worked together to make this project a reality, including: Google (who stores the data online), NASA (who provides the satellite images), the FAO and Greenpeace.

The map is collaborative, meaning that everyone can “contribute” from their computer (or smartphone, using the app Forest Watcher ) and add data. Many groups use GFW, each with different uses for the data. “Businesses, governments and communities have a desperate need for information on forests. Now they have it,” declares the President and Director General of the WRI.

According to new data, 2017 resulted in the greatest loss of forest cover ever recorded: around 15.8 million hectares. The study evaluated the loss of rainforest canopy (for human or natural causes) and found the main factors were wildfires, climate change and agriculture.
Some good news: deforestation in Indonesia reduced by 60% in 2017 compared with the previous year. But the war is far from won: the figures are still alarming and on a global level, massive deforestation continues.
Follow the updates on our site on GFW:

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