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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Remotely Monitoring Forests

Remotely Monitoring Forests

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Sunday, December 8, 2019/Categories: natural history, wildlife conservation, photography, space science, sustainability, environment, climate change

During the mid-1980's, an innovative bi-partisan congressional office, the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA), analyzed and made recommendations on Technologies to Sustain Tropical Forests. Remote sensing using satellites was identified as one of the key technologies identified to for preventing deforestation. Some current researchers have taken the report seriously.

The University of Maryland, with the help from Google Earth, has provided an app showing the power of the early OTA recommendations for Earth monitoring. Their powerful tool is a global map of forest loss and gain now available to anyone. Green areas are forested; red losses; blue increases; and pink shows both gains and losses during a time-line.

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

Deforestation damages water supplies, depletes wildlife, leads to unproductive degraded landscapes, and accelerates climate change feedback threats. It 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 the environmental reports or acted on them and the OTA is no more and deforestation continues largely unabated. The Agency's legacy continues and reports are reprinted by Princeton University. Maybe the new monitoring tool will bring more attention to this global tragedy. Anyone can now conduct their own investigation of forest conditions near them or far away and hopefully bring more action to control the destruction.



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