Six years after Indonesia passed a forest moratorium aimed at slowing unsustainable agricultural expansion into primary forests and peatlands, tree cover loss remains high, according to the latest satellite data from the University of Maryland and Google, available now on Global Forest Watch.
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Agriculture and forestry offer great opportunities to help create the lower-carbon economy envisioned in the Paris Agreement, but these two sectors were largely overlooked in a new decarbonization roadmap published in the journal Science. That needs to change to reap the benefits of forest and landscape restoration.
Civil society groups can enhance environmental and economic outcomes by connecting communities with expertise and formal decision-making processes.
The world's intact forest landscapes, vast swaths of unbroken wilderness largely unaffected by human activity, are shrinking. That's troubling because these regions are key to fighting climate change.
Global Forest Watch (GFW), an interactive online forest monitoring and alert system led by WRI, is used around the world to better manage forests. For example, GFW enabled civil society organizations to work with local stakeholders in Uganda and Nicaragua to document and report illegal practices in order to protect local forests and community rights.
For decades, local stakeholders around the world have tried to monitor forests with often outdated, low-resolution, and hard-to-access maps and data. In Uganda, for example, the National Forestry Authority (NFA) has struggled to pinpoint illegal deforestation within the 1.2 million hectares (3 million acres) of forest reserves it manages. In Nicaragua, illegal cattle ranching has devastated large expanses of forest, threatening the security and livelihoods of indigenous peoples and depleting wildlife habitat.
Global Forest Watch (GFW), created by a partnership of over 90 organizations and led by WRI, allows anyone with an Internet connection or mobile device to monitor forests in near-real-time with unprecedented precision using satellite data. GFW collaborates with over 100 civil society organizations globally to generate evidence, raise public awareness, and improve forest management. GFW supports these partners through small grants, data sharing, and technical training and support, including helping to adapt GFW to meet their needs.
In Uganda, GFW partnered with the Jane Goodall Institute, Google, and NFA forest rangers to develop Forest Watcher, an application designed specifically for the rangers and drawing on GFW data. Forest Watcher allows rangers to use smartphones and tablets offline for on-the-ground monitoring and verification of deforestation alerts. In Nicaragua, GFW worked with Global Wildlife Conservation and the Rama and Kriol communities to establish an indigenous forest ranger program that uses GFW to monitor the forests on which they depend.
Civil society organizations around the world are using data from GFW to protect forests and community forest rights and to drive policy change. Uganda’s NFA has used Forest Watcher to identify and prosecute illegal loggers, and GFW is now adapting the app for use worldwide. The Nicaraguan rangers have used GFW to identify and report illegal deforestation and encroachment by ranchers. Local authorities have returned the land to the community.
These examples provide a snapshot of GFW’s reach. Governments and companies around the world also use GFW to better manage forests. More than a million unique users have accessed the platform since its launch in 2014, and users continue to report a diverse range of changes it has enabled.
Today, we have more data about forests than ever before, but we still can’t seem to agree on where, when and why forests are changing around the world.
Even two prominent global data sources appear to disagree, at least on the surface. “World deforestation slows down” was the headline of the 2015 Global Forest Resources Assessment (FRA) published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). In the same year,...
The PALM Risk Tool (Prioritizing Areas, Landscapes and Mills) is a simple to use and automated way to assess the risk of deforestation associated with a palm oil mill and its supply base. This global tool prioritizes mills within a company’s supply chain to guide improvements toward zero-...