Citizen power helps track deforestation

It looks like citizen science is really taking off, providing multiple data sources that deliver unprecedented levels of accuracy about the extent of worldwide forests and the creatures that live in them. A series of new maps combine multi-sensory data, stats and crowdsourcing, adding vital insight from trained citizen scientists.

 8 different data sources create a hybrid map

The resulting hybrid forest map, published by the International Institute for Applied System Analysis Geo-Wiki team on the Geo-Wiki website, has been created using 8 different data sources, revealing a much more accurate picture than existing maps, covering forest location and an estimate of the percentage forest cover.

Why is the new map so important? Knowing the location and extent of forests is crucial for modelling effective ecology, climate change and economic predictions and it’s also really important for researchers who want the very best, most accurate and timely stats to estimate deforestation and degradation.

 Improving research and informing better policy making

The new maps will inform research and the decisions of policymakers, who rely on forest data for planning. And they complement earlier maps looking at global cropland and land cover, published earlier in 2015. Currently covering the year 2000, a base year for modelling, plans are afoot for maps created with data from 2010.

It just goes to show how ordinary people can contribute to essential research in their spare time. If you’d like to join in similar studies and do your bit for the future of the world’s rainforests, there’s plenty of advice online about how to get involved and become a citizen scientist. Here are three good sources:

Article from the Rainforest Foundations – the rainforest defenders.


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