According to data from Global Forest Watch, an online mapping platform that tracks tree cover loss and gain in near-real time, industrial development and forest fires in Canada’s tar sands region has cleared or degraded 775,500 hectares (almost two million acres) of boreal forest since the year 2000. That’s an area more than six times the size of New York City. If the tar sands extraction boom continues, as many predict, we can expect forest loss to increase.
New analysis published in Nature Climate Change shows that Indonesia is losing primary forest at a staggering rate. The country now has the highest rate of loss in tropical primary forests in the world, overtaking Brazil. Primary tropical forests are the most carbon- and biodiversity-rich type of forest ecosystem.
Reflecting on World Forest Week 2014, where the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN launched a Forest and Landscape Restoration Mechanism to help countries meet the Bonn Challenge to restore 150 million hectares of degraded and deforested lands by 2020, we need to further think about creating the rich landscapes that the world needs.
A new initiative from WRI and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) aims to shed light on how oil palm concessions affect forests.
Global Forest Watch Commodities (GFW-Commodities) combines the RSPO’s maps of certified sustainable palm oil production sites with global forest data—information that can empower companies to manage their forests and supply chains more sustainably.
There is a tremendous amount of underutilized and unproductive land throughout the world that has the potential to provide valuable ecosystem services if trees are returned to the landscape.
In collaboration with the University of Maryland and IUCN, and as part of the Global Partnership on Forest Landscape Restoration, WRI recently updated its Atlas of Forest Landscape Restoration Opportunities. We found that more than 2 billion hectares of land worldwide have the potential to be restored—and many of them are located in some unexpected places.
WRI’s Aqueduct project recently evaluated, mapped, and scored stresses on water supplies in the 100 river basins with the highest populations, 100 largest river basins, and 180 nations. We found that 18 river basins—flowing through countries with a collective $US 27 trillion in GDP—face “extremely high” levels of baseline water stress. This means that more than 80 percent of the water naturally available to agricultural, domestic, and industrial users is withdrawn annually—leaving businesses, farms, and communities vulnerable to scarcity.
On the heels of the Global Forest Watch (GFW) launch comes the GFW Small Grants Fund. The Fund, which we’re opening up for applications today, aims to support civil society organizations around the world to use the GFW platform in innovative and impactful ways. We have pledged an initial $375,000 for 2014 and are accepting applications through June 30. The Fund offers local organizations from around the world the chance to improve forest management in their own communities.
Clearing land for timber and agriculture is likely to blame for Indonesia's latest bout of fires. According to data from Global Forest Watch—a new online system that tracks tree cover change, fires, and other information in near-real time—roughly half of these fires are burning on land managed by oil palm, timber, and logging companies—despite the fact that using fire to clear land is illegal in Indonesia.
With Global Forest Watch, everyone from business executives to policymakers to indigenous groups can find out what’s happening in forests around the world—and use this information to take action. Now that we have the ability to peer into forests around the globe, a number of telling stories are beginning to emerge.
Learn more about how you can make your own map, here.