New NASA data shows a jump in forest loss in two remote parks in the Peruvian Amazon during the first three months of 2015.
NASA’s Quarterly Indicator of Cover Change (QUICC), a MODIS satellite-based product that underpins Mongabay’s Global Forest Disturbance Alert System (GloF-DAS), detected a significant increase in forest disturbance in Peru’s Alto Nanay Pintuyacu Chambira conservation area and Alto Purus National Park between January 1 and March 31, 2015. The forest loss is unusual: according to World Resource Institute’s Global Forest Watch, the two protected areas lost a negligible amount of tree cover between 2001 and the end of 2013. It’s presently unclear why the forest loss occurred.
NASA’s also picked up significant increases in forest disturbance in Brazil’s Alto Jurua Reserve, Sumatra’s Kerinci Seblat National Park, and Gabon’s Wonga-Wongue National Park. Outside conservation areas, there was a big jump in forest loss in western Sarawak in Malaysian Borneo and Papua New Guinea’s Madang Province.
NASA also picked up substantial vegetation change in Botswana’s Central Kalahari Reserve and South Africa’s Kruger National Park, which could be associated with savanna wildfires.
NASA confirmed recently observed forest loss in Gorontalo, North Sulawesi associated with conversion for oil palm plantations and a pulp and paper concession West Kalimantan.
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. The system was honored as a finalist for the Katerva Award, a prize that has been called “the Nobel Prize of Sustainability”, in 2013.