Elizabeth is the Corporate Engagement Manager for Global Forest Watch within the Food, Forests and Water program. She connects innovative businesses with Global Forest Watch (GFW), the output of a...
People & Ecosystems
How can the world feed more than 9 billion people in 2050 in a manner that advances development and reduces pressure on the environment?
Even if all food produced in 2009 were evenly distributed to all people in 2050, the world would still need 974 more calories per person per day.
The World Bank endorsed Ghana’s Forest Investment Plan in November 2012, approving a $50 million package that can restore forests, improve the country’s water supply, and provide better quality-of-life for communities. An analysis by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Centre for Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Services (CERSGIS), WRI, and other partners was instrumental in making this breakthrough program come to fruition.
Most of the original forests in Ghana have been degraded or converted into agricultural lands. In order to avoid further deforestation, Ghana proposed a $50 million plan to the World Bank’s Climate Investment Funds. However, the World Bank declined to endorse the plan, arguing that it wouldn’t generate sufficient impact. The plan did not have any component for the restoration of forest and landscapes.
Meanwhile, IUCN, CERSGIS, and WRI had spent two years developing and applying a method to evaluate national forest and landscape restoration opportunities, supported by the World Bank Program on Forests (Profor) and the German International Climate Initiative. They found that Ghana had large-scale opportunities to capture carbon and improve quality-of-life through agroforestry, improved treatment of fallow land, and other measures.
The Government of Ghana and the World Bank incorporated the results of this restoration analysis into a revised plan. The addition of this evidence-based, well-argued restoration component persuaded the World Bank to green-light the Forest Investment Plan.
The $50 million investment will not only make Ghana a pioneer in restoring degraded lands to mitigate climate change, it can significantly improve the lives of the country’s rural populations. Restoring landscapes for agriculture, conservation, and other purposes can yield better harvests, improved water supplies, ecosystem services, jobs, and more.
WRI is currently working with IUCN and local partners as part of the Global Partnership on Forest and Landscape Restoration, continuing its engagement in Ghana and conducting similar national assessments in Brazil and Rwanda. The aim is to meet the Bonn Challenge, an ambitious, international goal to initiate restoration on 150 million hectares of degraded and deforested land by 2020.
Forest fires ran rampant across Indonesia in the summer of 2013, spreading a toxic haze across South East Asia. Governments and NGOs are using WRI’s data and analysis to hold palm oil and timber companies accountable for these damaging forest and peat fires.
Burning forest is illegal in Indonesia. Yet June 2013 was one of the worst months for Indonesia’s fires in more than a decade, spreading an enormous cloud of haze and unhealthy pollution across the country and into Malaysia and Singapore. However, the governments of South East Asia didn’t have access to the same forest data, making it difficult to know where the fires were located and who might be responsible.
Using data from NASA and the Indonesian government, WRI was able to show within a few hours that half of the fires were within the boundaries of timber plantations and oil palm concessions. We leveraged our deep expertise on Indonesian forest and land issues, strong data analysis, and communications expertise to frame the issues around the fires and encourage governments to hold specific companies accountable. Our experts provided in-depth background information, clarified the facts where possible, and offered ongoing insights to media, resulting in coverage in more than 200 local and international outlets, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Guardian, Jakarta Post, Jakarta Globe, and Straits Times. The fires analysis became the most viewed blog series in WRI history, with more than 27,000 page views. This significant media outreach and attention improved the understanding of the crisis internationally, and helped build momentum to solve the problem.
The Indonesian and Singaporean governments have stated at the highest levels that they will prosecute major companies accused of setting illegal fires to clear land for palm oil and pulpwood plantations. Crucially, the governments of Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, and Thailand agreed at an ASEAN international summit to establish a joint platform for monitoring fires using satellite technology. They will also share company concession data among governments in order to hold companies accountable when fires are detected on their land. Improved data availability, law enforcement, and government cooperation could dramatically reduce the occurrence of forest and peat land fires in Indonesia, enhancing local communities’ health and the economy.
Moving forward, WRI will use Global Forest Watch, a soon-to-be-launched forest monitoring system, to push for strong natural resource management on a worldwide scale.
The United Nations projects that world population will rise from just over 7 billion in 2012 to nearly 9.6 billion by 2050.
A new Science paper provides the first high-resolution, global picture of annual forest cover change over the period 2000 to 2012. Prior to this research, the world lacked up-to-date, globally consistent forest data-- most information about forests is years out-of-date by the time it finds its way into policymakers’ hands.
Three key findings emerge from the new maps–and they point to solutions policymakers can pursue now.
Energy and consulting firm Wood Mackenzie, supported by data and analysis from WRI’s Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas, surveyed water risks among the world’s top energy-producing regions. They found that three energy sectors face particularly high water risks: shale gas in the United States, coal production and coal-fired power in China, and crude oil in the Middle East.
Aaron is the Chief Technology Officer at WRI. He is responsible for day-to-day operations in the Data Lab, as well as technology strategy and engineering in the Forest Program. He currently leads...