NASA's Earth-observing fleet of satellites provides a worldwide and unbiased view with standardized scientific data -- information crucial for tracking the health of the world's forests.
Countries like Brazil are using data from NASA satellites to track and measure their forests in advance of a United Nations effort to reduce climate change by providing "carbon credits" for protected land.
The concept is known as REDD+, which stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation. It includes monitoring forest degradation and efforts in conservation and sustainable management.
"REDD+ aims to make forests more valuable standing than they would be cut down, by creating a financial value for the carbon stored in trees," says Yemi Katerere, head of the United Nations' UN-REDD Programme Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland. "It creates an incentive for developing countries to reduce carbon emissions by protecting, better managing and wisely using their forest resources, contributing to the global fight against climate change."
REDD+ will be a major topic of discussion during this week's Conference on Sustainable Development, known as Rio+20. Images and data acquired by Landsat satellites are increasingly becoming an accepted approach for anyone hoping to have a long-term view of the health of the world's forests.
"For example Brazil is using Landsat data from 1996 to 2005 to create a baseline for tracking future forest coverage," says Doug Morton, a NASA Landsat researcher at the NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
Consistently gathering data about our planet since 1972, the Landsat Program is a series of Earth observing satellite missions jointly managed by NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).
Landsat's views of Earth are at a 30 by 30 meter (32.8 yard) resolution, about the size of a baseball diamond. "That's a pretty appropriate scale for doing country-wide e
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NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center