Global Forest Watch

Created in 1997 in partnership with Forest Monitoring for Action, Global Forest Watch is an online platform that provides its users with hourly updates on tropical forest clearing around the globe. Using MODIS satellite image data, maps and alerts are generated regarding the status of tropical forest cover around the world. Data can be explored by topic, such as levels of biodiversity, climate change, commodity production and water sources. The interactive data visualizations allow users to select an area and run an analysis within political borders on historical tree cover loss. Areas of interest can be added to the user’s dashboard, where they can then set email alerts about forest cover change. Global Forest Watch serves as a watchdog for the forestry industry in efforts to geolocate illegal and/or unsustainable activity. The analyses rendered on the platform led to the creation of the Forest Conservation Performance Rating, which quantifies and ranks progress in reducing the clearing of forests globally. The online platform even allows users to add a “ Stories” layer to their map, which displays environmental science and conservation-related news articles by geographic location. 

Schneider, B., & Olman, L. (2020). “The geopolitics of environmental global mapping services: an analysis of Global Forest Watch. In A Research Agenda for Environmental Geopolitics.”


Climate Change, Data, Ecological Monitoring, Illegal Resource Extraction, Industry/Natural Commodities