High-resolution interactive map of the World's deforestation



According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretariat, the overwhelming direct cause of deforestation is agriculture [1,2], in fact, tropical forests are diminishing in extent due primarily to the rapid expansion of agriculture [4]. In a general perspective:

  • Subsistence farming is responsible for 48% of Deforestation
  • commercial agriculture is responsible for 32% of deforestation;
  • logging is responsible for 14% of deforestation and
  • fuel wood removals make up 5% of deforestation [1,2].

The problem didn't go unnoticed by the United Nation's Program for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+), who built an ambitious plan aiming to reduce the 20% contribution to global emissions of greenhouse gases from the forest sector, offering a financial value of the carbon stored in forests as an incentive for local communities. Image: Deforestation by crustmania under Creative Common license (CC BY 2.0). 


Although the future magnitude and geographical distribution of future tropical deforestation is uncertain at least now we may be able to evaluate the impact and estate of play of the current situation, specially with a new interactive map based on 654,178 Landsat satellite images part of the US Geological Survey, a team led by Matthew Hansen, a University of Maryland scientist that has managed to achieve a brilliant way to analyse the current status of our world forest, the biggest treasure on earth and the most important part of our life capital. 



[1] Wikipedia article on deforestation under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License;
[2] UNFCCC (2007). "Investment and financial flows to address climate change". unfccc.int. UNFCCC. p. 81.
[3] Monitoring vegetation dynamics and carbon stock density in miombo woodlands. Ribeiro NS, Matos CN, Moura IR, Washington-Allen RA, Ribeiro AI. [4] Predictive modelling of contagious deforestation in the brazilian Amazon. Rosa IM, Purves D, Souza C Jr, Ewers RM. Department of Life Sciences, Imperial College of London, Ascot, United Kingdom.