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First Global Forest Protection Platform Opens Online

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WASHINGTON, DC - Global Forest Watch, a new, free online monitoring and alert system for forest management, was launched Thursday by more than 40 organizations, including the World Resources Institute, Google and the UN Environment Programme.

The mapping application provides near-real time, reliable data about what is happening in forests worldwide, using the latest satellite technology, open data, and crowdsourcing information.

"From now on, the bad guys cannot hide and the good guys will be recognized for their stewardship," said Dr. Andrew Steer, president and CEO, World Resources Institute, WRI, during the launch event held at the Newseum in Washington.

In the years from 2000 through 2012, the world lost the equivalent of 50 soccer fields of forest every minute of every day for entire 12 years, a total of 2.3 million square kilometers (888,034 square miles), according to data from the University of Maryland and Google.

The countries that lost the greatest amounts of forest are: Russia, Brazil, Canada, United States and Indonesia.

Rebecca Moore, engineering manager, Google Earth Outreach and Earth Engine, said Global Forest Watch is an ambitious vision, and yet it's both timely and achievable given WRI's knowledge of environmental science and policy, strong partnerships, and the high-performance Google cloud technology that we're donating to this initiative."

Cloud computing multiplies the speed at which data can be analyzed.

Global Forest Watch can support indigenous communities, who can upload alerts and photos when encroachment occurs on their lands; and nongovernmental organizations can identify deforestation hotspots and collect evidence to hold governments and companies accountable.

When forest loss alerts are detected, a network of partners and citizens around the world can mobilize to take action.

Global Forest Watch will allow financial institutions to better evaluate if the companies they invest in adequately assess forest-related risks.

Buyers of major commodities such as palm oil, soy, timber, and beef can better monitor compliance with laws, sustainability commitments, and standards. And suppliers can credibly demonstrate that their products are "deforestation free" and legally produced.    
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