Forests are a critically important part of our planet. They are not only the habitat of countless species, they also help in preserving the natural balance of our atmosphere. But over the past few years, deforestation has escalated at a nightmarish pace. Google Maps now provide detailed breakdown of such deforestation around the globe.
The series of interactive maps, created to higlight the rate of deforestation all over the world, has been created by the joint collaboration of NASA, Google and the University of Maryland researchers. A lot of data used in this collaborative research, specifically the aerial imagery, came from the Landsat satellite.
The best thing about these new maps is that they provide not only a detailed view of the global deforestation rate but also that of individual countries. Typically, these maps provide a contrast between forests back in 2000 and then the rate of their erosion by 2012.
During the course of the study, researchers went through more than 654,000 Landsat images. The results from this extensive research are detailed below.
On a global scale, we lost nearly 888,000 square miles of forest area between 2000 and 2012. Out of this, 309,000 square miles were regrown and some balance was restored. Nonetheless, more than 500,000 squares miles of forest is out net gain over the last one decade or so, which is a very alarming deforestation rate.
Indonesia and Malaysia:
Indonies comprises of a number of islands and until a few years ago, the country had a healthy share of forests. But over the years, the size of these forests have trimmed down. Back in 2002 – 2003, the deforestation rate in the country was 3900 square miles per year. This has bumped up to 7700 square miles in 2011 – 2012, of which little is regrown. However, along the border joining Malaysia and Indonesia, Indonesia has been able to successfully preserve most of the forests.
Malaysia has attempted to regrow whatever forests it has lost over the past decade. The country has had partial success, although deforestation continue to climb.
Brazil is a very significant country when it comes to forest, hosting the Amazon treasure-trove. The country was incredibly able to bring down its deforestation rate from 15,400 square miles per year back in 2002 to 7700 square miles per year in 2011 – 2012. This is a huge achievement because worldwide, most countries have seen worsening deforestation rates.
However, it is unfortunate to note that the Brazilian government hasn’t exactly been able to contain the deforestation rate in Amazon. The forests included within the Amazom chapter have witnessed a deforestation rate that has tripled over the last year alone, ringing alarm bells among scientists and researchers.
The numbers for US and Europe are relatively less striking, given that most of the forests cut down in these regions have been regrown during the last decade or so. Such ecological balance is absolutely crucial for us to maintain the natural cycles of our planet.