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Earth NASA Science

NASA Tool Shows Where Forest Is Being Cut Down 70

terrancem writes "A new tool developed by NASA and other researchers shows where forest is being chopped down on a quarterly basis. The global forest disturbance alert system (GloF-DAS) is based on comparison of MODIS global vegetation index images at the exact same time period each year in consecutive years. GloF-DAS could help users detect deforestation shortly after it occurs, offering the potential to take measures to investigate clearing before it expands."
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NASA Tool Shows Where Forest Is Being Cut Down

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  • by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Sunday June 03, 2012 @02:06AM (#40199131) Journal
    Despite our best attempts to eliminate trees there are still vast and physically remote areas of the planet that are chock full 'em. In some of these areas illegal logging and clearing occurs on a massive scale, (which for some bizzare reason is often estimated in units of footy fields lost per minute). Surveys such as this provide a valuable tool for answering such questions as; Who's stealing the people's (or plantation owner's) property? Where is poverty, neglect, or overuse causing a detrimental impact to both people and environment? How can we make best use of our aid/environment dollar to try and reverse, or at least slow, the trend in the fastest growing areas?
  • Re:Replanting? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DeathElk ( 883654 ) on Sunday June 03, 2012 @02:14AM (#40199165)

    Reforestation is fine and good, and an essential part of mining, agriculture and other planned land use that involves clearing. What this tool provides is insight into illegal deforestation, which can have a significant local impact on soil salinity, erosion and vulnerable native species.

    OK, I've said my bit. So bring on the rednecks whining about humans and their commercial needs overriding the needs of trees and animals, whilst completely ignoring the fact that the wellbeing of humans is directly impacted by the wellbeing of the environment in which they live.

  • Re:Replanting? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Grayhand ( 2610049 ) on Sunday June 03, 2012 @03:05AM (#40199323)

    How about showing where forests are replanted? In North Ameria, more than 2 billion trees are planted each year and the total forest coverage of the continent has increased considerably over the past century.

    Actually most of what is replanted is what people intend to cut as soon as possible. Here in Maine the moment trees reach a marketable size they are cut. I had a real estate agent refer to 30 year old trees as old growth. The forests used to extend from coast to coast except for the great plains and the deserts. A small percentage remains even with the replanting. Trees are pretty critical to the environment. They're a major source of oxygen, plankton in the oceans are the number one source. They are also one of the bigger carbon sinks so when trees are cut down they stop collecting and any parts that are burned or allowed to rot release the carbon. You talk about the last century but the largest reduction in forest coverage has happened in the last century. Even in the states replanting was rare until the last 50 years and even now most that are planted are earmarked for cutting as I said. Old growth are generally forests that have never been cut but that's probably less than 1% believe it or not. These days mature trees are called old growth but even that is misleading because a tree that is 30 to 50 years old and is 35 to 50 foot tall isn't old growth when the same species reaches 80+ feet and a 150 years old. A number of species reach a 100 to 200 foot tall, even White Oaks reach a 100', but trees of that size which used to be common are now rare. We can't keep leveling forests and burning fossil fuels without seeing a backlash. It's important to keep track of losses and gains.

  • Re:Replanting? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by buchner.johannes ( 1139593 ) on Sunday June 03, 2012 @06:39AM (#40199973) Homepage Journal

    Monocultures are not good --- and not as robust as the mix that was there before. There will be fewer animals living in a forest that is constantly disturbed.

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