Google’s Global Forest Watch tracks tragic tree loss

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

These are the different areas across the globe that have been affected by deforestation.

Google, the University of Maryland, and dozens of other companies have teamed up to launch a project known as the Global Forest Watch. The group effort involves using high-definition imaging satellites and Google services to track global deforestation – the process of cutting down forest trees to use the land.

Now, the tree-tracking technology is available online, so responsible communities can take action.

According to the latest report, the world lost millions of acres of land over the last 12 years. If this rate of loss continues, there will be serious consequences for the climate, wildlife, and water supplies.

Data from the Global Forest Watch shows that the world lost approximately 230 million hectares (888,000 square miles) of forest over the last decade. This is the equivalent of losing 50 soccer fields of land every minute of every day for 12 whole years. Some factors that play a part in the problem include forest fires, logging, mining, and storms. The countries that experience the most deforestation include the US, China, Indonesia, Russia, Brazil, and Canada.

While the world did see 309,000 square miles of new forest over the years, it was nowhere near enough to make up for the amount of trees lost. The Global Forest Watch hopes that by making their high-resolution images available online for the world to see, more communities will get an accurate view of their region and take better steps to prevent forest loss.

Featured image courtesy of H.-J. Sydow on Wikimedia. Image of deforestation diagram courtesy of University of Maryland

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