As world leaders deal with climate change, aim to lift more people out of poverty, and make the world a more sustainable, prosperous place in 2015, here are the top Stories to Watch, according to WRI’s experts and as presented by WRI President and CEO Andrew Steer on January 8.
WRI established its Indonesia office in 2014. We work with leaders in business, government, and civil society to address climate change, forest restoration, forest governance, and access to information. Learn more about our work in Indonesia, including our Forests and Landscapes in Indonesia, Governance of Forests Initiative, and Access Initiative projects.Visit the WRI Indonesia website.
WRI in partnership with 50 organizations launched Global Forest Watch (GFW) in February 2014. The online platform uses satellite and other data to track forest cover change in near-real time. It has catalyzed a dramatic increase in action against unsustainable and illegal forest practices, and governments and businesses are using GFW to improve forest management transparency and accountability.
The world lost nearly 13 million hectares of forest—an area roughly the size of England—every year between 2000 and 2010. Agriculture and logging were largely responsible, which in turn led to higher greenhouse gas emissions, regional haze, water pollution and a decline in biodiversity. The lack of timely, reliable data on what is happening in forests, where degradation is occurring, and who is responsible makes it difficult to prevent further deforestation.
In 2011, WRI began building a network that’s grown to 50 organizations to create a publicly accessible, user-friendly, online tool to provide accurate, up-to-date data on the status of the world’s forests.
Global Forest Watch’s (GFW) launch event in February 2014 offered a window on global tree cover loss and gain, and provided national statistics, tree cover loss alerts and vast amounts of other information. By July, two new applications were also available: GFW Commodities, which shows the impact of palm oil suppliers and other commodities on forests, and GFW Fires, which monitors and analyzes forest fires across Southeast Asia.
While WRI led this work, the mobilization of a path-breaking partnership was central to its success. Partners include the University of Maryland, Google, Esri, Center for Global Development, Imazon, GFW Canada, ScanEx, Transparent World, Jane Goodall Institute, CartoDB, Vizzuality and Blueraster. Major funding came from Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative, USAID, Global Environment Facility , DFID, Tilia Fund, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, Sida, Bobolink Foundation and Danida.
GFW has catalyzed a dramatic increase in action against unsustainable and illegal forest practices. Governments and businesses are using GFW to improve forest management transparency and accountability. The Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil has used GFW to help members disclose where palm oil companies operate. Indonesia, a core partner, uses GFW Fire’s ultra-high resolution images to crack down on illegal burning. And the tool has received worldwide attention, with more than 450,000 unique visitors, more than 1,200 media stories, and countless interactions via social media.
Indonesia's parliament recently approved an agreement to reduce haze pollution from land and forest fires.
Ratification of the law—originally signed 12 years ago—comes not a moment too soon: Fires are currently flaring across southern Sumatra and West and Central Kalimantan, jeopardizing Indonesia’s forests and the communities and wildlife that call these regions home.
WASHINGTON (August 5, 2014)— Singapore’s Parliament passed the Transboundary Haze Pollution Act 2014 which allows regulators to prosecute companies and individuals that cause severe air pollution in Singapore by burning forests and peatlands in neighboring countries. The legislation was first proposed after fires in Indonesia spiked in June 2013, engulfing Singapore in haze.
Global Forest Watch-Fires (GFW-Fires) is a dynamic online forest monitoring and fire alert system that provides near-real time information that can empower people to better combat forest fires before they burn out of control.
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Community forests around the world hold 37.7 billion tonnes of carbon
Editor’s note: The full report, executive summary brochure and high-resolution infographics are available to download here.