15 Nov 2013:
Groundbreaking Mapping Project
Depicts Forest Change Around the Globe
Scientists from Google, U.S. universities, and federal agencies have for the first time produced a high-resolution global map showing in striking detail the extent of deforestation across the globe.
The project — which relied heavily on expertise from the computing center Google Earth Engine — documents a loss of 888,000 square miles of forest between 2000 and 2012, along with a gain of 309,000 square miles of new forest. The rate of deforestation is equal to losing 68,000 soccer fields of forest every day for the past 13 years, or 50 soccer fields every minute, says the World Resources Institute
. Brazil, once responsible for a majority of the world's tropical forest loss, is now the global leader in scaling back forest destruction, cutting its deforestation rate in half over the past decade, researchers report in Science
. Over the same period, Indonesia has more than doubled its annual rate of forest loss, despite a supposed 2011 Indonesian government moratorium on new logging licenses. The database, which will be updated annually, reflects all forest losses, whether due to logging, fire, disease, or storms. "This is the first map of forest change that is globally consistent and locally relevant," says University of Maryland researcher Matthew Hansen.
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A three-part series Tainted Harvest
looks at the soil pollution crisis in China, the threat it poses to the food supply, and the complexity of any cleanup. Read the series.
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The Warriors of Qiugang
, a Yale Environment 360
video, chronicles a Chinese village’s fight against a polluting chemical plant. It was nominated for a 2011 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short.
Watch the video.
Top Image: aerial view of Iceland
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, winner of the Yale Environment 360 Video Contest, documents the work of African researchers monitoring wildlife in Uganda's remote Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Watch the video.