Google Earth just launched the first high-resolution map of global deforestation. The project was developed in collaboration with the University of Maryland, NASA and USGS by analyzing 654,178 Landsat images from the last ten years. The interactive map will hopefully make a difference in fighting deforestation – especially since studies have shown that tropical forest loss is increasing by 2,101 square kilometers (811 square miles) each year.
The high-res map was made using the most recent computing technology, without which it would have taken 15 years to process all the images. It is scalable down to 30 meters and shows forest cover and loss on a global scale. It offers the possibility to chose which data it shows- users can see deforestation caused by different things like farm clearing, logging, fires and tornadoes.
The map could make a significant contribution in fighting deforestation but also provide data for determining the effects of climate-related forest loss. It could be used by the public, governments and different organizations equally, and stimulate the introduction of better policies when it comes to protecting global forests.