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High-res map of world forests shows the horrific loss to the world's ecosystems


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Scientists have created, together with Google and the U.S. government, a high-resolution map of the world's forest using satellite imagery. The amazing high-res map details the growth and loss of some of the world's key ecosystems between 2000-2012.

 

"Using archived imagery captured by a NASA satellite called Landsat, Hansen and his team used Google Earth Engine computing to map a detailed view of global forests at 30-meter resolution that they say is a vast improvement over previous knowledge of forest cover. It has allowed them to quantify forest gain and loss each year from 2000 to 2012, whether from logging, fires or storms. Users of the map have the ability to zoom in on small regions of the globe and see how forest cover has changed over time."

 

The results from the satellite images have shocked scientists. 

 

"Between 2000 and 2012, some 880,000 square miles of forest were lost, largely in tropical and subtropical areas. Only 309,000 square miles of forest were gained during that period. [...] What’s more, while the satellite images confirmed that the rate of deforestation in Brazilian rain forests — once the highest in the world — is on the decline, and indeed has been cut in half, “intensive forestry” in developing countries in Africa and Asia more than offset the gains achieved in Brazil."

 

And it doesn't look much better in the West. In Southeastern  U.S., 31% of the subtropical forests had been lost, or in some cases regrown. These forests are also disturbed at four times the rate of South American rain forests.

 

The massive deforestation is mostly a result of industrial development and the need for commodities such as timber, soybeans and palm oil in the global marketplace. “The product chain leads directly back to us,” Matthew Hansen, a professor of geographical sciences at the University of Maryland, said. “The demand comes back to us."

 

via Al Jazeera America

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