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Posted on June 9, 2015
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GFW Climate: Global Forest Watch developing new app to track carbon emissions from forest change

Posted on June 9, 2015
Subscribe to the
GFW newsletter

By Nancy Harris and Jamie Gibson By the time climate negotiators sit down at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) conference in Paris this December, a new GFW app will enable anyone to visualise the climate impacts of tropical deforestation.

GFW Climate

Global Forest Watch (GFW) and Vizzuality have teamed up once again, this time to highlight the greenhouse gas emissions caused by tree cover loss in the tropics. Joining the Fires and Commodities apps, the new “GFW Climate” application will use the powerful GFW API, alongside newly available datasets and analyses, to catalyze greater transparency and dialogue around carbon accounting in the land and forest sector.

Filling gaps in carbon accounting

Emissions from land use change, including deforestation, are the second largest human-caused source of carbon dioxide emissions worldwide, after the burning of fossil fuels. Countries understand that if they are to tackle climate change, they must address tropical deforestation. One way to do this is to create financial incentives through programs like REDD+, which reward countries and landholders for protecting or restoring forests. But performance-based incentive programs require accurate, reliable and timely information about how forest carbon stocks are changing. Proven methods exist for effectively monitoring these changes, yet large gaps in data and implementation remain, particularly in developing countries, due to low technical and technological capacity and high cost. Furthermore, the complexity of these methods and data make it difficult for the public and civil society to understand and engage in these initiatives. Through GFW Climate we aim to help address these limitations and improve accessibility to critical data by compiling the most relevant data on forest loss and forest carbon stocks into one easy-to-use, interactive and flexible interface.

Connecting the dots between forest change and climate change

When we launched Global Forest Watch over a year ago, it brought about an easier way for anyone, anywhere, to access and explore forest related data on the web. Increasing transparency has since made way for conversations around better forest management and conservation efforts and has ultimately led to action. GFW Climate aims to build upon this movement, providing users with custom reports and analysis tools to better understand the relationship between forest change and greenhouse gas emissions and effectively prioritise opportunities for climate change mitigation.

Compelling, intuitive visualizations bring forest carbon data to life

The best way to engage users on any given topic is to make the information easy to interact with and relevant to their specific interest or needs. GFW Climate will feature a clean, intuitive interface, making it easy to navigate for non-technical users and technical experts alike. Similar to the GFW flagship site, the teams at WRI and Vizzuality will present information about carbon emissions from land use change through global and national datasets, interactive maps, custom analysis and crowdsourced data – all to create a highly intuitive, powerful user experience.

Want to get involved?

Global Forest Watch is meant to put powerful information on forests into the hands of our users, so who better to give us feedback as we work to build and refine GFW Climate? Contact us at if you are interested in helping set the direction for this important work or simply staying up to date on the latest developments.

BANNER PHOTO: Forest Ecosystem Services (PFES) patrollers at work in the jungles around Macooih. Asian Development Bank (Flickr).

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