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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Monitoring Forests Remotely

Monitoring Forests Remotely

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Friday, March 20, 2020/Categories: natural history, wildlife conservation, photography, space science, sustainability, environment, climate change

During the mid-1980's, an innovative congressional office, the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA), published Technologies to Sustain Tropical Forests. The non-partisan office identified and recommended remote sensing as one of the key technologies to prevent deforestation. Current investigators have taken the report seriously.

The University of Maryland and Google Earth have developed a computer app showing the power of the OTA recommendations to monitor the Earth's forests by satellites. Their tool offers a global map of forest loss and gain and is now available to anyone. Green areas are forested; red shows losses; blue indicates increases; while pink shows both gains and losses over a time-line.

Interactive Map of Global Forest Change  (credit: University of Maryland)

Deforestation damages water supplies, depletes wildlife, leads to unproductive and degraded landscapes, and contributes to climate change feedback threats. This becomes particularly obvious from the granular, interactive maps of the Amazon and Indonesia but also in Siberia and elsewhere.


        Deforestation in the Amazon and Indonesia Deforestation (credit: University of Maryland)

Congress may not have used OTA's environmental analytical reports or acted up on them. The OTA was disbanded and deforestation continues largely unabated. The Agency's legacy continues and their reports are still available from Princeton University. Maybe this new computer/internet monitoring tool will bring more attention to this global tragedy. Anyone can now conduct their own forest investigation near by or far away. Hopefully the app might bring more action to control the destruction.



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