watching deforestation in real time

This seems very cool. I’m no techie, (although I occasionally try to be with no luck;)

Google Earth now has a new application that shows deforestation rates around the world. Visualizing hits home more than x hectares taken per year etc. (download the file here)

The KML, developed by David Tryse, provides deforestation data from a number of sources for individual countries, including a live ticker for each country.

“The world has lost close to half of its forests already today, and the continued high pace of deforestation contributes greatly to climate change and the loss of biodiversity,” wrote Tryse on his website.

Country profiles are also included as pops ups.

(taken from Mongabay)

EcoGeek has a good write up on it too.

But why again should we care about deforestation in lands far away?

Well, the word itself sounds pretty negative, so prob don’t need to explain too much about the “why’s”… but in Brazil, home of the world’s Amazon, the rain forest is being chopped away at increasing rates (yes, even with this green hayday) and yes, we should care about that.

Map of worst affected areas

Why is it happening? (read the economist article)

  • high commodity prices (soy bean, beef prices) – economic incentive for chopping, makes more room for ranches and farms
  • poor governance – ownership issues between the ranchers who claim the land and the loggers – keep cutting down and moving in and everyone gets some business

Why again should we care?

  • the rain forests are carbon sinks (breathing in our toxins and exhaling clean air)
  • they hold medicines that we don’ t know exist yet

Some people will stress that there is more economic opportunity though from cutting it down. True, there is some economic benefit from the cattle and logging industry. (Actually, a friend just told me that if the world recycled paper the same way that Finland does, we’d destroy Brazil’s economy – to which I most definitely chimed in with my thoughts on that;)

Believe it or not, the rain forests actually have terrible soil conditions for farming – it’s only good when the trees are there and the eco-system runs smoothly. So, when it’s destroyed, it’s hard to get it back and the farmer only enjoys the richness for a short period of time, at which point he has to move on into new lands.

There are much better ways to ‘profit’ off of the rain forests. Lots of sustainable ways that actually provide income for the native people (i.e. collecting the fruits, nuts, medicine, etc.)

So yes, I’m a pulp and paper girl, but I’m still for a sustainable forest industry… and that doesn’t appear to be happening in Brazil.

Speaking about chopping… I ended my last post with my excitement for ‘Juhannus’ (Midsummer) – and I just about chopped off the tip of my finger with an axe while prepping the sauna. Nope, wasn’t drunk on ciders, just sadly don’t know how to use an axe:( Pathetic for a country girl who grew up on wood fires ! No worries though, still got the finger and healing nicely;)

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