Friday, April 5, 2013

New Forest Monitoring System Addresses Data Delays

Forests are an integral part of life on earth.  Forests provide the livelihood for more than 1.6 billion people and support biodiversity, providing home to more than seventy percent of the Earth's land animals and plants. Forests provide several key ecosystem services as well. Trees are natural carbon storage systems and reduce greenhouse gases. They also have incredible roots that serve underground water utility functions, such as storing and releasing water into lakes and rivers.

The UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) and Interpol recently released a report entitled, Green Carbon: Black Trade, stating that illegal logging has created a criminal trade worth $30-100 billion annually, worldwide. Illegal foresting operations have gotten more organized in recent years. The use of bribes is common, but now illegal foresters are hacking government databases. They avoid arrest by moving quickly between regions and countries, laundering the illegal harvest by mixing it in with legally acquired timber.

Resource managers have been struggling to keep up with the criminal activity. Much of their struggle is related to the extreme delay in the access to monitoring data. The most recent forest maps of Indonesia took three years from the time the data was taken to being published online. Deforestation maps often take 3 to five years to create, making it difficult to respond to illegal activities. 

Global Forest Watch 2.0 (GFW 2.0) is "a powerful near real-time forest monitoring system that unites satellite technology, data sharing, and human networks around the world to fight deforestation." GFW 2.0 uses remote-sensing technology to show high-resolution deforestation maps on a user-friendly platform. The system uses satellite and crowd-source data which includes input from local communities.

The new monitoring system is the creation of collaborative efforts between the World Resource Institute, UNEP, businesses and NGO's from all over the world including Google Earth Engine. It is hoped that by providing better information, resource managers will be better equipped to combat illegal logging and deforestation.

For more information about GFW 2.0, visit their website.

Angelica Oman
Graduate Program Assistant 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Professor Smith and Students Hike at Elk Meadows Park

Professor Smith took students on a tour of Elk Meadows Park in Evergreen, CO last Saturday, the 30th. Students met at the park and played a quick game of bocce ball while waiting for everyone to arrive. Despite lingering snow in some areas of the park, the students had a great time walking in the sunshine and getting to know each other. It was a great opportunity to foster the love of nature we all share in the ENRGP community.

Lise-Anne McLaughlin brought her sister and their dog, Millie. Millie provided entertainment for the whole group, chasing down sticks and running around the group. During the hike, the group admired an old building in an open field and then spent time climbing a fallen tree.
After the three hour hike, the students reconvened at Professor Smith's house for dinner. Students were invited to attend both the hike or the dinner as their schedules allowed. Many students brought their significant others as well as their children. There was a flurry of activity among the seven children in attendance. Woody, from Toy Story, was also in attendance, whipping his hat around like a true cowboy. (Ayman Alghamdi's son came dressed in a Woody costume.)
We hope that we can continue to host events such as this and that even more students will join in the opportunity to learn and grow from each other! Thank you to everyone who attended then event!