By Mikaela Weisse and Katie Fletcher

GLAD alert coverage (shown in pink) in South America.

Global Forest Watch’s ability to track and display deforestation in near-real-time has changed the way people around the world monitor forests. But for those interested in monitoring large areas like an entire country, region or even the world, the sea of pink deforestation alerts on the map can be difficult to discern. Our new feature, Places to Watch, aims to solve this problem by filtering, prioritizing and interpreting deforestation data to spotlight areas of recent loss that pose the biggest threat to the world’s remaining forests.

Places to Watch is a data-driven storytelling initiative that pairs deforestation alerts with satellite imagery, intel on what is happening on the ground, and resources to learn more. The goal is to turn GFW’s sea of pink pixels into insights for engagement and action.

Automated Analysis

The Places to Watch are determined by assessing the concentration of 30-meter resolution GLAD deforestation alerts in areas of intact forests and protected areas. The system uses an automated index to select the top ten places in South America, Central Africa, and Southeast Asia. Read our technical note for more information on the ranking methodology.

Human Curation and Investigation

GFW experts review all thirty computer-generated places to determine the areas of greatest concern based on evaluation of satellite imagery, contextual information, and their own expert knowledge.

The GFW team then solicits additional information from an “action network” of partners who may have further details about what’s taking place in these locations. Once the information is collected, GFW shares these Places to Watch with the world.

See the first iteration of GFW’s Places to Watch, the December 2017 curation.

Places to Watch FAQs

What regions are included in the Places to Watch system?

Places to Watch currently covers the 22 countries where GLAD alerts are available: Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela in the South America; Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda in the Central Africa; and Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, and Timor Leste in Southeast Asia.

Places to Watch will expand to additional countries as GLAD alerts become available.

How can I learn more about the methodology used for Places to Watch?

Read “Places to Watch: Identifying High-Priority Forest Disturbance from Near–Real Time Satellite Data” for more detail on the methodology used for Places to Watch.

Why aren’t there many alerts within a specific Place to Watch on the map?

We look at the number of alerts in an area within a 30-day window so that we can highlight areas of recent change. However, this also means that areas may be identified that have had relatively little change beyond the past month. We curate and collect information on each place to bring you what we think are the most noteworthy stories of recent change. We will always clearly indicate the date range used in the analysis.

How often are new Places to Watch released?

We are currently releasing Places to Watch on a quarterly basis.

I have more information about what’s happening in a Place to Watch. What should I do?

If you have additional information to share about a place to watch, please email to let us know! We may not always be able to update our descriptions, but can share these details with relevant contacts in our action network. You can also post a user story straight to Global Forest Watch to share your knowledge directly with all of our users. As always, we encourage you to share Places to Watch on social media using the hashtag #PlacestoWatch.

If you don’t have information about a current Place to Watch, but have on-the-ground information in other areas, email to become part of the action network. We’ll get in touch if we identify a Place to Watch in an area where you are working.

How can I stay updated on Places to Watch?

Sign up here to receive each Places to Watch curation in your email. Places to Watch are also posted to the GFW blog and the GFW map.

If you’re a journalist interested in covering future Places to Watch, please email Our team is equipped to provide additional analysis and resources upon request.