By Sofia Soto Reyes Peru ranks as one of the ten most biodiverse countries on the planet, with more than half of its territory made up of the Amazon Rainforest. The Ucayali region, named for the Ucayali River, which serves as the main mode of transport for Peru’s timber trade, flows through a part of the Peruvian Amazon that is designated as an Intact Forest Landscape (IFL). Global Forest Watch’s Intact Forest Landscapes layer displays the extent of world’s last remaining undisturbed forests, large enough to retain all native biodiversity, and showing no signs of alteration since 2013. The significance of these areas is evident in their very definition as they could alternatively be described as pristine. In the tropics, like the Ucayali region, many of the trees that make up these limited expanses are hundreds of years old and tens of meters tall.
The objective of creating the IFL layer was to establish a monitoring baseline that would track the degree of forest degradation occurring within Intact Forest Landscapes around the world. The feasibility of monitoring change in these areas is made even easier by using the IFL layer overlaid with GLAD Alerts, which were developed by University of Maryland’s Global Land Analysis and Discovery lab. The GLAD Alerts layer identifies areas of likely tree cover loss at 30-meter resolution on a weekly basis. Illustrated below is the development of what appears to be a new logging road branching off of the Ucayali River that cuts right through an IFL.
It is possible to change the date range of the GLAD alerts using the time adjuster at the bottom of the map. By doing this, we discovered that tree cover loss was significant enough to be picked up by the alerts starting in July 2015. Using the country-specific layers, we also learned that this road runs partially through a timber concession and partially through a Permanent Production Forest, both officially recognized by the Peruvian Government.
With increasing frequency, the existence of Intact Forest Landscapes is shrinking as human development continues to supersede forest conservation priorities. As such, the ability to easily and consistently monitor them is incredibly important. Users can do so by subscribing to GLAD Alerts for a particular region, like the Ucayali, or an entire country!