Earth's green canopy gets an online protector
By Marcelo Teixeira
SAO PAULO Feb 20 (Reuters) - A new online monitoring system will make it possible to quickly check the condition of tropical forests around the globe that were previously under no surveillance, potentially increasing pressure on governments to stop deforestation.
Washington-based World Resources Institute (WRI) will provide public access on Thursday to the new tool to evaluate forests worldwide. Global Forest Watch (GFW) was developed by dozens of institutions with the help of Google Inc's Earth Engine.
It promises to improve scrutiny of changes in forest cover in vulnerable areas of Southeast Asia, Africa and the Amazon.
"For the first time, we have united in one place powerful satellite information analyzed in a way that is easy to understand," said Nigel Sizer, director of WRI's Global Forest Initiative.
The system uses high resolution data from half a billion Landsat satellite images to measure tree cover loss or gain. It also carries a tree cover loss alert, pinpointing where new forest clearing occurs.
"With the exception of Brazil, none of the tropical forest countries have been able to report the state of their forests," said Rebecca Moore, engineering manager with Google Earth Outreach and Earth Engine. "Now it will be possible to have near real-time updates of the state of the world's forests, open to anyone to use."
The project was made possible by the Landsat imagery archives opened to the public in 2008 by the U.S. Geological Service, Moore said.
WRI expects the new system to also increase the pressure on commodities suppliers in countries where forests are at risk. Continuación...