The map shows forest change from 2000-12. Green areas are forested; red suffered forest loss; blue showed forest gain; pink experienced both loss and gain.

A new interactive online map of global forest loss and gain has been launched by the University of Maryland with the help of Google Earth, allowing viewers to zoom in on forests to a high level of local detail.  Using satellite imagery collected from 2000 to 2012, researches used the map to determine that over a 12 year period, the Earth lost 2.3 million square kilometers of forest (a net loss of 1.5 million sq km) due to logging and a number of environmental factors.

The map also revealed that between 2003 and 2011, Brazil showed the best improvements of any country in terms of decreasing deforestation, as the country cut its rates in half.  Unfortunately, the Brazilian government has recently stated that in the past year the country’s deforestation rate has increased by 28%.  Although the reason for this abrupt increase in deforestation continues to be debated, Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira called the increase a “crime,” and she plans to set up a meeting with government officials representing the most affected areas in order to discuss strategies to reverse the trend.

Brazil led the charge to decrease deforestation in the Amazon in 2009, when the Brazilian government pledged to decrease deforestation in the Amazon by 80%, by the year 2020.  Although this year’s numbers are a setback, the people of Brazil have shown the world that they are dedicated to decreasing deforestation rates within the Amazon.  With advances in technology and further research, it may be possible to use tools such as the global forest change map to improve monitoring of deforestation within the Amazon. The Brazilian government has made it clear that increased deforestation rates within the Amazon is completely unacceptable, and will address the issue further within the coming weeks.

You can help protect healthy forests by adopting an acre through Acre+Care.