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NASA detects surge in deforestation in Malaysia, Bolivia during first quarter of 2014

Close-up on GloF-DAS map data for Southeast Asia.

Close-up on GloF-DAS map data for Southeast Asia.

Forest disturbance in Malaysia, Bolivia, Panama, and Ecuador surged during the first quarter of 2014, according to NASA data.

NASA’s Quarterly Indicator of Cover Change (QUICC), a satellite-based product that underpins’s Global Forest Disturbance Alert System (GloF-DAS), recorded a more than doubling in the number of deforestation signals in Bolivia (162 percent increase), Malaysia (150 percent), Panama (123 percent), and Ecuador (115 percent) relative to a five-year baseline. Cambodia (89 percent), Nigeria (63 percent), and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) also saw sharp increases in forest disturbance, according to the tool.

Christopher Potter, a Senior Research Scientist at NASA Ames Research Center who co-led development of the tool, highlighted several areas of significant new forest disturbance.

Forest disturbance in Indonesia’s Kerinci Seblat National Park on the island of Sumatra.

Forest disturbance within Lanjak Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary in Indonesian Borneo.

Apparent encroachment into Guira state park on the Bolivia / Brazil border. All images courtesy of Chris Potter / QUICC / NASA

The disturbance areas appear to be roughly consistent with FORMA alert data generated by Global Forest Watch, a forest monitoring platform that also uses NASA data to generate reports on potential forest loss.

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

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