Global Forest Watch News Roundup: Week of August 16-22, 2015

GFW News Roundup: Forest stories from around the world that demonstrate the power of spatial analysis and open data in improving management of forest landscapes.

This News Roundup was in collaboration with the Forest Legality Alliance

Top Reads of the Week:

How Indonesian forest law is being used against poor people,” 16 August, Jakarta Post

At A Glance: Indonesia’s Forest Law No. 18/2003 on Prevention and Eradication of Forest Destruction, ostensibly intended to protect the forests from organized crime and illegal logging, is instead being used to criminalize Indigenous Peoples and local communities.

Commentary: Can Certification Save Borneo’s Forests?,” 16 August, Jakarta Globe

At A Glance: The future of Borneo’s environment lies in its forests. These harbor wildlife, provide free meat and products to people, prevent floods and erosion, and, oh yeah, they allow us to breathe oxygen and keep the rising global temperature under control to some extent. Whatever politicians, business people or others tell you, without forests, the island of Borneo as a functioning system would be lost.

Trees at risk in warming Andes upland forests,” 17 August, RTCC

At A Glance: Scientists have known for years that, in a warming world, many living things try to move uphill to seek survival where the air is cooler. But not all species are able to move fast enough. Unlike animals, trees and other sorts of vegetation cannot move quickly to escape the heat. And for some of them, it seems, there is no survival option available. They simply die.

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Planned Natural Gas Pipeline Threatens Protected Areas in Virginia and W. Virginia

By Elizabeth Goldman

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a 550-mile planned natural gas pipeline that would run from West Virginia to North Carolina, has been in the news recently over environmental impact concerns. According to the U.S. Forest Service, if the project moves forward, 30 miles of the pipeline would run through national forests in Virginia and West Virginia.

We decided to compare the proposed path of the project with the World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA) maps available on Global Forest Watch (GFW) to see exactly what areas may be impacted. The WDPA is the most comprehensive global spatial data set on protected areas.


Blue polygons denote protected areas in Virginia and West Virginia provided by WDPA. Click on each for more details.

Using GFW’s Open Data Portal, we downloaded the WDPA data set and created a custom map to show where the path of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline overlapped with which protected area.

Red line denotes one of the planned pipeline routes; green line denotes the Appalachian Trail.

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3 Ways Open Data Can Help Forests

By Asa Strong

This article originally appeared on Insights.

The open data movement—the idea that certain data should be freely available to everyone—can drive innovation, make government and corporate activities more transparent and improve decision-making about natural resources. Global Forest Watch (GFW), an online forest monitoring platform, has helped make data accessible and visible to the public.

Data that is open is provided in an online form that allows for direct management. Tools, such as easy-to-use mapping applications, enhance the “openness” of data by enabling users to derive more meaning and benefit from the information. Open forest data may be created and released by governments, companies, academics, civil society organizations, and increasingly citizen science. It can describe how forests are changing and being used by people over time. Understanding the geographic arrangement of data can help solve forest challenges.

Finding open data for forests can be difficult. Those who own the data may be reluctant to share information for fear it will be misused or improperly cited, or because of intellectual property or confidentiality restrictions. A lack of international data sharing requirements and standards also limits access.

GFW is working to meet these challenges to make timely, decision-relevant forest information available through data mining, partnership and advocacy. The Open Data Portal makes forest data easy to locate, preview and download. Users can create web-maps from the data using ArcGIS Online.

Here’s how this kind of open data can help solve complex forest challenges.

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Global Forest Watch News Roundup: Week of August 9-15, 2015

GFW News Roundup: Forest stories from around the world that demonstrate the power of spatial analysis and open data in improving management of forest landscapes.

This News Roundup was in collaboration with the Forest Legality Alliance

Top Reads of the Week:

Tree Thieves and Mill Owner Indicted for Theft of Big Leaf Maples from National Forest,” 6 August, Department of Justice

Three southwest Washington timber cutters and a Winlock, Washington wood buyer and his lumber mill have been indicted on theft and environmental crimes for cutting Big Leaf Maple trees on national forest land, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes.

Pope laments destruction of forests to plant soy,” 8 August, Reuters

Pope Francis criticized the destruction of forests in order to plant soy in an interview with an Argentine radio station on Saturday, reinforcing his message that the environment should take precedence over financial gain.

Climate Change: Killing Cloud-Side Forests,” 9 August, National Geographic

No, unfortunately there isn’t a forest of feather-light trees just waiting to be discovered atop a fluffy white cloud. However, there are many unique, high-altitude forests found on mountains that rely on the moisture and cover of passing clouds to survive. Now, with climate change altering atmospheric currents throughout the world, experts have estimated that many of these forests are in trouble.

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Global Forest Watch News Roundup: Week of August 2-8, 2015

GFW News Roundup: Forest stories from around the world that demonstrate the power of spatial analysis and open data in improving management of forest landscapes.

This News Roundup was in collaboration with the Forest Legality Alliance

Top Reads of the Week:

Drones to Control Man-Animal Conflict Around Forests,” 2 August, The New India Express

At A Glance: If things go according to plan, drones may soon come to the rescue of those caught in conflict with wild animals. Scientists at the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) in Dehradun have decided to use drone technology as a tool to control the increasing cases of man-animal conflict in and around forest areas.

Overloaded trucks damaging public infrastructure and endangering travellers,” 3 August, The Star Online

At A Glance: A Sarawak Barisan Nasional component party, PRS, said illegal logging could still be rampant in rural areas, judging by road damage and sightings of lori hantu, the term locals use to describe overloaded logging trucks.

To Save Forests, Kenyan Factory Brews New Way to Dry Tea,” 3 August, Reuters

At A Glance: Of the 66 tea factories under the management of the Kenya Tea Development Authority, Makomboki is the only one that doesn’t use firewood in the processing of its tea. Instead, the factory has switched to a greener, cheaper fuel: briquettes made of biomass byproducts that would otherwise be treated as waste.

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