Google wants to help watch over world’s forests


AFP – Google on Thursday unveiled a tool that lets scientists and defenders of the environment use the Internet to keep an eye on what is left of the Earth’s forests.

“We hope this technology will help stop the destruction of the world’s rapidly-disappearing forests,” Rebecca Moore and Amy Luers of the US Internet giant’s philanthropic arm Google.org said in a blog post.

The technology lets scientists analyze raw satellite imagery data and extract information such as locations and measurements of deforestation or even regeneration of forest.

The system is hosted in the Google “cloud,” the technology firm’s Internet-linked data centers, and has the potential to reveal in seconds when forests are being chopped down, burned or bulldozed.

“Being able to detect illegal logging activities faster can help support local law enforcement and prevent further deforestation from happening,” Moore and Luers wrote.

Emissions from tropical deforestation are comparable to the emissions of all of the European Union, and are greater than those of all cars, trucks, planes, ships and trains worldwide.

Google demonstrated a prototype of the technology at the UN climate talks in Copenhagen.

The forest-tracking system is being tested by a small group of Google partners and will be made available as a not-for-profit service, according to Moore and Luers.

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