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Set Up an Area of Interest

Forest Watcher lets you monitor deforestation, fires, and other activity in custom areas of interest (AOIs). You can either set up your AOIs directly in the mobile app or through the Forest Watcher website.

1. Open the app on your device and log in with your Facebook, Twitter, or Google account. If you already use MyGFW on Global Forest Watch, we recommend that you log in using the same account.

2. The first time you log in to the app, you will be prompted to set up an area that you want to monitor.

3. Select the country where your area of interest is located. Then click next.

4. The map will automatically zoom to your country. You can then manually zoom to the region you are interested in by double tapping or using the ‘two finger pinch’ technique, like most map applications.

5. Draw your area on the map:

  • Tap on the map to begin drawing a shape. After your first tap you will see an undo button in the bottom left side of the screen. After your second tap, you will start to see the borders of the shape.
  • Note: There is a limit on the size of areas of interest. If you are monitoring a large area, you may need to create two or more smaller areas: a warning will show on the app if your area is too large.

  • You can also view contextual data like Protected Areas or annual tree cover loss if you want to draw an area of interest in a particular national park or forest reserve. To do this, click on the map layers icon in the top right corner of the map and select a data layer.
  • Click NEXT when you have drawn your area.
  • Name your area.
  • Click finish and the alert data will load for your area. This may take a few minutes.
  • You will now see your area listed on the Forest Watcher home screen.
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    6. Next you can select which alerts you want to see for your area:

    • From the list of your AOIs, select an area to view it on the map.
    • Click on the green gear icon in the bottom right side of the screen to open the settings.
    • Choose the alert system that you’re interested in using the toggle button. You can’t see multiple data sets on the map at the same time, but you can change which alerts you want to display anytime. The app will update the alerts you select here.
    • Select the time frame for the alerts. This will change which alerts show up on the map. Note: Time frames vary based on the alert type. For more information about GFW alert systems, visit and click on the info icons in the “FOREST CHANGE” drop down menu.
    • Once you have selected an alert system and the time frame, click back to the map to view alerts.

    7. To make alerts available offline:

    • From the list of your AOIs, click on the green download icon for the area that you would like to view offline. This will allow you to view the alerts you selected and a basemap (at zoom level 12) without internet connection.
    • Once downloaded, the green icon will change to a check mark signaling data was successfully downloaded offline.

    • When new alerts are available for an area that you downloaded, the check mark icon will change to an update icon. Click this to load the new alerts.
    • Every time you open the app, it will ask to update alert data for your AOIs. You can always select "SKIP" if you don’t want to update the data.

    8. For additional settings, click on the green gear icon in the top right corner of the home screen.

    Here you can:

    • Log out of the app.
    • Change the format of the coordinates used on the map.
    • Create new areas of interest by clicking on "Add Area."
    • Delete areas of interest.
    • Find out more about the app, our partners, and the terms and conditions.

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