Constant chirping of birds, buzzing of bees, howling of animals, scenic waterfalls, variety of vegetation can be witnessed in a forest. It is a sweet abode for trees, animals, reptiles, insects, etc. Unfortunately, this sweet abode is cut down for various other purposes like agriculture, recreation facilities, residential areas, etc. Deforestation leads to global warming. Deforestation can also lead to the extinction of wildlife animals, birds, trees, and insects. Apart from deforestation, illegal smuggling of animals, poaching of animals, extinction of animals, are some of the major threats for wildlife habitat. How do we preserve our forest?
Effects of deforestation:
Forests are like sponges that absorb carbon-di-oxide. When these forests are cut down, imagine the amount of carbon-di-oxide let into the atmosphere. Deforestation of forests like the Amazon can have a huge effect on climate change, as these rainforests are the main producers of oxygen and absorb carbon-di-oxide in the atmosphere.
Deforestation has a huge impact on rainfall. It reduces rainfall and exacerbates the drought situation. Thus, it leads to drastic climate changes such as areas receiving high rainfall will gradually face drought conditions. Climate change will gradually lead to serious environmental problems in the long run.
A forest fire or bush fire is another reason for deforestation. It can occur naturally or because of human beings. Forest fires can be dangerous and can get out of control. The forest fires or bush fires lead to a huge amount of CO2 released into the air. E.g., the Amazon rainforest which is called the ‘Lungs of the Earth‘ was recently on fire and this burning of forests released a large number of toxic gases such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, etc. This burning of forests not only pollutes the environment but also has a bad effect on the climate. It also causes the extinction of rare species that are found in that forest.
There are laws made to protect the forest and its habitat. But is it possible to catch all those who break laws and clear forests for their selfish motives? Can there be alternatives to prevent such deforestation and still help build a livelihood for all? Can we design a sustainable approach to forest management?
Tracking Deforestation using Geospatial Intelligence
How can we monitor deforestation with the help of geospatial intelligence? For that, let’s understand what is geospatial intelligence.
Geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) is deriving location-wise information with the help of satellite images of the earth. With Geospatial-Intelligence, a specific location can be monitored by deriving information from analyzing images and data of that location. This data can be stored and be used to study the changes occurring on earth. These historical data can further be used to track deforestation.
Tracking deforestation is challenging, especially spanning millions of km of forest area like the Amazon. However, satellite images make life easy for us. Researchers can now use GIS applications and tools to study real-time changes.
Geospatial Information System (GIS) provides a platform for making use of machine learning algorithms for spatial data. This functionality is integrated with artificial intelligence algorithms to analyze spatial data like satellite images. This enables us to detect and track disasters like deforestation.
Remote Sensing and GIS
With the help of sensors on satellites, we can get a continuous source of information about the earth. This remote sensing technology helps in monitoring forest areas. Remote sensing is integrated with GIS which helps researchers and governments to understand the forests getting depleted over some time.
With the remote sensing methodology, data can be collected in a short period. GIS applications analyze this data to identify the changes in any location. It also helps in conducting time series analysis of the data accumulated over some time. For instance, if you have been monitoring a forest since 2000. It would give images from the year 2000 of that area. You can study the data to understand the changes the area has undergone over the period. It will help identify if a dense forest is slowly reducing to a barren land. This timely identification helps in taking immediate action to avoid deforestation and further damage to the planet.
The satellite images and data collected through geospatial intelligence have helped government and researchers to not only identify deforestation but also understand its impact on wildlife habitat, and on our environment. The identification of deforestation helps in taking adequate measures to restore our forest land. The GIS applications and tools have helped to identify these changes quickly. We no longer have to wait for ages to identify the changes in an area. It is faster and gives more accurate data with precise location information.
In recent years, there have been so many studies conducted by researchers on forest lands including Amazon forests, forests in Sumatra (Indonesia), Myanmar forests, forests in Europe, and so on. Many countries are now involved in identifying strategies to restore their forests. It’s not just the responsibility of governments but every businessman and individual should take this as a responsibility. If you have any questions or inquiries regarding the GIS platform, Satellite Images, or applications of AI/ML to detect deforestation at a large scale, please free to email us at [email protected].