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NASA/USGS data paints global picture of forest losses and gains since 2000

Courtesy: NASA Goddard, based on data from Hansen et al., 2013.

Courtesy: NASA Goddard, based on data from Hansen et al., 2013.

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    Thursday, November 14, 2013, 2:43 PM -

    Data from the NASA/USGS Landsat 7 satellite paint a clear picture of the impact that deforestation, wildfires and invasive species have had on the world's forests during the first 12 years of the millennium.

    The study, led by Matthew Hansen at the University of Maryland, analyzes 143 billion pixels contained in more than 650,000 Landsat images to compile a list of forest losses and gains, which were then colour-coded.

    The map is the first of its kind to develop a consistent method to analyze forest loss and gains and apply those findings to a high-resolution map.

    During that time, "2.3 million square kilometers of forest were lost, and 800,000 square kilometers regrew," NASA said in a press release.

    Brazil, long criticized for rapid loss of the Amazon forest, cut its deforestation rate from about 40,000 square kilometers per year to about 20,000 square kilometers per year.

    "That's the result of a concerted policy effort to reduce deforestation, and it sets a standard for the rest of the world," Hansen said in a statement.

    Other countries, like Indonesia, have increased their deforestation rates.

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