Deforestation in Kenya.Photo: IRIN/Charles Akena
By Caleb Mutua
A website that allows you to report cases of deforestation and provides you with near real-time information on the rate at which trees are disappearing worldwide is now available for free.
World’s top environmental conservation bodies led by the World Resources Institute (WRI), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and Google joined hands to launch the Global Forest Watch (GFW) as war on deforestation and poaching intensifies.
GFW is an innovative site capable of capturing near-real time tree cover loss data for the humid tropics at a resolution of 500 meters. Remarkably, it also combines the newest satellite technology, open data and crowdsourcing to guarantee access to timely and reliable information about.
Dr. Andrew Steer, the President and CEO of WRI urged businesses, governments and communities to utilize this the site in monitoring and protecting forests.
“Global Forest Watch is a near-real time monitoring platform that will fundamentally change the way people and businesses manage forests. From now on, the bad guys cannot hide and the good guys will be recognized for their stewardship,” said Dr. Steer during the ground-breaking ceremony held in Newseum, Washington D.C on 20th February, 2014.
United Nations under Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said the website provides an unprecedented opportunity to connect forest managers, businesses and private sector with information and data across the globe.
“This is a great example of a community coming together and providing the world with a truly groundbreaking and pioneering product. Hopefully in a few years’ time we will be able to monitor the impact and the results in terms of what actually happens on the ground that will be both a litmus test and I think the greatest affirmation that the time for this idea had come,” said Mr. Steiner.
Melia Project Principal Investigator and the Acting Dean, University of Nairobi, College of
Agriculture and Veterinary Services (CAVS) Prof. Kunuthia Ngugi applauded the site for making it possible for indigenous communities in East Africa and beyond to upload alerts and photos when encroachment occurs on their lands.
“GFW couldn’t have come at a more opportune time, especially now that more Kenyans can access the internet through their smartphones and computers. With this website running, it becomes easier for initiatives like Melia Project to mobilize other conservationists to act before it’s too late,” said Prof. Kinuthia.
The website (www.globalforestwatch.org) will also provide annual tree cover loss and gain data for the entire globe at a resolution of 30 meters, available for analysis and download all thanks to Google’s high-performance cloud computing technology that multiplies the speed at which data can be analyzed.