News / Science & Technology

Detailed Forest Change Mapped

Using Landsat imagery and cloud computing, researchers mapped forest cover worldwide as well as forest loss and gain.
Using Landsat imagery and cloud computing, researchers mapped forest cover worldwide as well as forest loss and gain.

Related Articles

Global Warming Gases at Highest Level Ever

World Meteorological Organization says accelerating trend will have devastating consequences, unless nations do more to to rein in emissions

Demand for Palm Oil Fuels Land Conflicts in Africa, Southeast Asia

New report focuses on human rights violations in the palm oil industry

Illegal Logging Threatens South Sudan Forests

Locals who cut down trees in Eastern Equatoria's forest reserves insist they have no other way to make a living.
VOA News
The world lost 2.3 million square kilometers of forest between 2000 and 2012 and gained 800,000 square kilometers according to a new study. The loss is more than 8 times the size of Texas, the biggest state in the continental U.S.

Deforestation, wildfires, windstorms and insects are all reasons for the decline as reported in a new study based on data from the NASA-U.S. Geological Survey Landsat 7 satellite. The researchers analyzed 143 billion pixels in 654,000 Landsat images to compile maps of forest loss and gain between 2000 and 2012.

The study was done by scientists from the University of Maryland, Google, the State University of New York, Woods Hole Research Center, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and South Dakota State University.

During the study period, Brazil cut its deforestation rate from approximately 40,000 square kilometers per year to approximately 20,000 square kilometers per year.

"That's the result of a concerted policy effort to reduce deforestation, and it sets a standard for the rest of the world," said Matthew Hansen, whose team at the University of Maryland in College Park, Md., led the new study.

The team found that the deforestation rate in other countries increased.  Indonesia's deforestation rate doubled in the study period, from approximately 10,000 square kilometers per year in 2000-2003 to more than 20,000 square kilometers in 2011-2012.

Prior to this study, country-to-country comparisons of forestry data were not possible at this level of accuracy. Different countries define forests differently, making previous global comparisons difficult with existing inventories.

"When you put together datasets that employ different methods and definitions, it's hard to synthesize," Hansen said. "But with Landsat, as a polar-orbiting instrument that takes the same quality pictures everywhere, we can apply the same algorithm to forests in the Amazon, in the Congo, in Indonesia, and so on. It's a huge improvement in our global monitoring capabilities."

The maps also illustrate the impact of politics on land cover. On the island of Borneo, the maps clearly show the border between Malaysia and Indonesia. Malaysia's heavy logging along forest roads is visible right up to the Indonesian border, where forests were still largely intact as of 2012. In Côte d'Ivoire, a civil war in 2002 corresponded with intense deforestation of several previously protected nature reserves.

A different pattern of change appears in the southeastern U.S., where landowners harvest trees for timber and quickly plant their replacements.

"Of this eco-region in the southeast, 30 percent of the forest land was regrown or lost during this period," Hansen said. "It's incredibly intensive. Trees are really treated like a crop in this region."

In the U.S. state of Alabama, Landsat also detected miles-long streaks of destroyed forest. When the researchers examined the year-by-year record, they found the damage occurred in 2011 after a violent tornado season.

The results of the study will be published in the Nov. 15 issue of the journal Science.

You can have a look at the map details using this interactive tool.

Here's a video about the study:

You May Like

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine May Be in Use by Jan.

WHO assistant director Dr. Marie Paule Kieny says clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, US and Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Shinoda Marikoh from: HKT
November 16, 2013 6:27 PM
Of course they consider the difference of north and south, and of course they understand we have for seasons.

Of course they take these things take into account and made these maps.
They are scientists, not stupid journalists.


by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
November 15, 2013 9:34 PM
What a good job ! I agree this product is not only consistent grobaly but relevant locally. I looked into my resident region and found some informations compatible with urban exploitation.

I have some questions concerning how these forest data are acquisited. First, how the date of the southern and northern hemisphere are shown in one map? I guess green season is different between the two. Second, how the data of greenery of leaf falling trees is handled? Does this map deal only evergreen trees?


by: Kitagawa Keikoh from: Daikanyama, TKO
November 15, 2013 6:29 PM
It's amazing data visualization. We can understand easily where loss forest.

Please look at "Ishima" in Japan, located near Hiroshima known as the atomic bomb in WWII. This hole island is totaly red because they had lost almost all forest due to wildfire in 2011.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid