Google Launches Deforestation Tool to Make Trees More Valuable Alive Than Dead

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Google's philanthropic arm,, has launched a new way to monitor deforestation. The tool was demonstrated at the Copenhagen talks yesterday, which will enable online, global-scale observation and measurement of changes in the earth's forests. The hope is that the tool will prove itself to be a way to eventually end deforestation. It seems impossible, but Google Earth has enabled other feats that might have been thought impossible too. From discovering fringing coral reefs to helping Amazonian tribes stop deforestation on their land, Google Earth has been a boon for environmentalism.

Now, the new tool will, with luck and diligent use, help to stop the destruction of the world's forests.

Google's blog notes, "According to the Stern Review, protecting the world's standing forests is a highly cost-effective way to cut carbon emissions and mitigate climate change. The United Nations has proposed a framework known as REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries) that would provide financial incentives to rainforest nations to protect their forests, in an effort to make forests worth "more alive than dead." Implementing a global REDD system will require that each nation have the ability to accurately monitor and report the state of their forests over time, in a manner that is independently verifiable. However, many of these tropical nations of the world lack the technological resources to do this, so we're working with scientists, governments and non-profits to change this."

The tool provides satellite imagery of forested areas, including images from past coverage so we can see how deforestation has impacted various areas. Then, using the imagery, scientists are able to measure both deforestation and reforestation. Through this tool, Google is giving scientists " easy access to terabytes of satellite imagery and thousands of computers in our data centers."

Right now, the tool is still in test mode, but soon it'll be offered to scientists as a not-for-profit service.

More on Google and Deforestation
Indigenous Groups Document Environmental Destruction Using GPS and Google Earth
10 Countries With the Highest Deforestation Rates in the World
New Google Earth Layer Shows Global Deforestation

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