Loss of forest, woodland, and savanna increased sharply in Madagascar, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and Bolivia during the second quarter of 2013, reports a new assessment by NASA scientists.
NASA’s Quarterly Indicator of Cover Change (QUICC), a MODIS satellite-based product that underpins Mongabay.com’s Global Forest Disturbance Alert System (GloF-DAS), picked up strong deforestation signals in three countries between April 1 and June 30, 2013: Madagascar (567 percent increase in deforestation relative to the year-earlier period), Bolivia (196 percent), and DRC (75 percent).
According to Christopher Potter, a Senior Research Scientist at NASA Ames Research Center who co-led development of the tool, hotspots in each country include:
- Bolivia: Large areas of woodland disturbance southern region of Santa Cruz and Tarija;
- Madagascar: New areas of disturbance in the northeast (Antananahaolo) and the south (Toliara);
- Congo, DRC: New areas of forest disturbance in the central and eastern areas.
There was also a significant increase (12 percent) in deforestation in Gabon.
GloF-DAS relies on NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensor to detect changes in forest greenness cover relative to the year-earlier period. It registers change in all forest and woodland areas that have lost at least 40 percent of their green vegetation cover over the past year. Seasonal variation is generally mitigated through the product’s quarterly baseline, although changes in some parts of the world, like boreal regions, can be affected by snow and ice distribution.
The tool can help highlight areas where deforestation and forest degradation is occurring on a quarterly basis, potentially providing insight to authorities, policymakers, civil society, local communities, and academics.
GloF-DAS was developed in a partnership between NASA Ames Research Center, Cal State Monterey Bay, and Mongabay.com.