Tree plantations are not distinguished from natural forests in the case of several key data sets hosted on GFW (including 2000 tree cover, UMD/Google tree cover loss and gain, FORMA alerts, and QUICC alerts). Tree cover loss may include cases of tree plantations being harvested, and tree cover gain may include cases where natural forests are replaced with tree plantations.
When used without additional data filters, most tree cover change data on GFW include cases of tree plantations being harvested, and tree cover gain data include cases where natural forests are replaced with tree plantations. Read our blog "Global Forest Watch and the Forest Resources Assessment, Explained in 5 Graphics" for an overview of how GFW measures natural forests, tree plantations, and forest change.
To address this challenge, researchers from Transparent World and World Resources Institute mapped the location and extent of tree plantations in 2013 and 2014 for seven tropical countries (Brazil, Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia, Peru, Colombia, and Liberia) through visual interpretation of moderate- and high-resolution satellite imagery. Read GFW’s blog post for a summary, read the technical note for a full account of the methods and findings, or explore the data on GFW. Users can apply the tree plantation maps to better distinguish plantation harvests from forest conversion in GFW’s tree cover change data.