Credit: Dimas Ardian/Getty Images
Suspected illegal logging is seized by Indonesia police in Sumatra Island. A new satellite tracking tool of Indonesia and other countries aims to catch illegal loggers in real time.
A cutting-edge satellite-based alert system could help policymakers and conservationists put a dent in illegal logging by notifying users in real time of new bald patches in the world's rainforests.
The system, known as the Global Land Analysis and Discovery alert system, was developed by the Department of Geographical Sciences at the University of Maryland and Google, and uses an algorithm to analyze satellite images of tropical rainforests in Peru, the Republic of Congo and Indonesian Borneo in more precise detail than ever before. The goal is to provide high-resolution tree loss data across the most vulnerable swaths of forests, potentially helping researchers and officials catch illegal logging before too much damage is done.
Healthy trees absorb vast amounts of carbon dioxide. So while illegal logging devastates biodiversity and robs local communities of their economic benefits, deforestation also accelerates climate change, since forest degradation is the second-largest contributor of global carbon emissions.