Google just unveiled a new online tool called Global Forest Watch that allows organizations and everyday people to monitor deforestation around the world. More than 40 organizations are collaborating on the site, which tracks the gain and loss of tree cover around the world using a combination of satellite data, crowdsourcing, and open data to show the state of the world’s forests in near real-time.
The site is designed to be easy to use and understand, showing separate maps of forest loss and gain over the present and past fourteen years, as well as maps of global tree cover, protected regions and conservation efforts, and more. Visitors to the site can view a map of the world for an idea of the big picture, or zoom in to see what’s happening in their own backyards.
There’s more the the site than simply giving visitors the ability to sit back and watch the world’s forests change, however. Global Forest Watch also wants to empower individuals, governments, companies, and NGOs to monitor logging operations. Corporations can use the tool to ensure their supply chain is sustainable, governments can identify illegal clearing operations, and residents in affected areas can report violators in their communities.