Forest Watcher

Operating as a subsidiary to the Global Forest Watch platform, Forest Watcher is a mobile app that brings the remote sensing platform into the hands of those in the field. Rolled out in 2017, the open source app is available through the App Store and Google Play, and can operate offline for maximum efficiency in all situations; users need only identify the area they would like to monitor on a basemap beforehand. Deforestation or fire alerts, powered by Global Forest Watch’s GLAD system, can be set for the area as well. As users navigate an area on the ground, they can use the app to collect data at alerted locations, providing more information on what is going on by submitting a report. New reports can also be created in non-alerted zones. Many of the Global Forest Watch’s features from its online platform are transferred into the mobile application, such as the ability to overlay thematic layers onto the basemap (ie: protected areas, timber concessions) or upload custom layers. The only downside to the Forest Watcher as a tool is that users must have access to a smartphone, which isn’t always possible for remote land defenders. By providing affordable and dynamic data collection and monitoring tools, Forest Watcher arms activists and researchers alike with the necessary technology to tackle global deforestation. 

Petersen, R., Pintea, L., & Bourgault, L. (2019, August 07). “Forest Watcher Brings Data Straight to Environmental Defenders: People“.


Citizen Science, Ecological Monitoring, Illegal Resource Extraction, Internet of Things