ICT and Big Data
Companies Can Now Fight Deforestation Through Crowdsourced Online Forest Monitoring

Data from Global Forest Watch, an online forest monitoring and alert system, is now available on Esri's ArcGIS Online GIS cloud service. By using a portal on Esri's platform to access GFW satellite data and crowdsourced information, users can add maps, datasets and applications to their forest projects and better analyze indicators of forest change.

Global Forest Watch is a partnership of more than 40 organizations led by the World Resources Institute (WRI), which uses GIS maps and data to promote sustainable forest management and policy.

The WRI launched the Global Forest Watch website on February 20. Alongside the launch, Global Forest Watch data went live on ArcGIS Online, extending the GIS cloud platform to Global Forest Watch data users. The service can be used to track deforestation throughout the world and is intended for use by stakeholders in the world's forests, including concerned citizens, government leaders, buyers and suppliers of sustainable forest products who seek to better manage forests and improve local livelihoods.

To promote transparency in forests around the world, Global Forest Watch combines near real-time satellite monitoring technology, forest management and company concession maps, protected-area maps, mobile technology, crowd-sourced data and on-the-ground networks. Within ArcGIS Online, users can now access Global Forest Watch data and add it to a basemap. They also can draw from Esri's data collection, such as Landsat, to get a more comprehensive perspective about complex problems. Additionally, users can access Esri's content as well as content added to the service by users every day.

"Thanks to dramatic advances in technology, we can, for the first time, see what is happening in forests in near real-time," said Dr. Nigel Sizer, director of the global forest initiative at the World Resources Institute. "GIS helps us take very powerful data and make sense of it. The analytical capabilities of GIS enrich our understanding of the earth's forests of not only where but why and how."

"Monitoring forest health and designing sustainable solutions is a challenging task, but an essential one," Esri president Jack Dangermond said. "The Global Forest Watch initiative demonstrates the capacity of open data, shared systems, and platform technologies to bring many experts together to design solutions for a universal problem."

WWF and international paper and packaging conglomerate Mondi Group recently announced the formation of a three-year strategic partnership aimed at increasing environmental stewardship in the packaging and paper sectors. The project will focus on minimizing the impacts of Mondi’s operations on forests, climate and water, and fostering sustainable practices in the industry. WWF says the partnership, which links one of the largest packaging, pulp and paper producers in the world with the world’s largest conservation organization, sends a strong signal that prioritizing environmental sustainability makes good business sense.

Earlier this month a UN-backed report called for more private sector engagement in REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation). REDD+ is a global mechanism to quantify and value the carbon-storage services that forests provide, and provides developing countries with an economic alternative to deforestation. It creates a low-carbon pathway to economic growth that will be critical to sustainable human progress and climate-change mitigation.

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