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The simple app that saves the forests of the world - Walla! Business


Satellite-based widget for preventing deforestation has led to a reduction in the scale of the phenomenon and savings of hundreds of millions of dollars in African countries

  • Business

The simple app that saves the forests of the world

Satellite-based widget for preventing deforestation has led to a reduction in the scale of the phenomenon and savings of hundreds of millions of dollars in African countries


  • Rainforest

  • Forests

Sapphire Polk, Angle

Friday, 26 February 2021, 02:23

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In the video: an application against deforestation (angle)

If the phenomenon of deforestation has not been problematic enough so far, then recently the big unwanted guest of the past year has joined the long list of possible damages: the corona plague.

According to various scientists, widespread deforestation in some areas causes changes in biodiversity, leading to the spread of species such as rats and bats - which can carry viruses that can also be transmitted to humans, thus allowing the outbreak of epidemics such as the corona.

Today, extensive efforts are being made around the world to find solutions to the problem of deforestation.

A new study examined the impact of an app (widget) that reports activity in deforestation around the world, and found that it led to an 18 percent decrease in the extent of deforestation in the African countries surveyed.

Forested areas are of great importance to man and the environment, in part because they absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, fix it to stable plant biomass (trunks and branches) - thus contributing to the mitigation of the climate crisis.

However, vast areas of forest are cut down every year, with the main reason being the evacuation of land for agriculture and grazing.

In 2019, the loss of the world's forested areas amounted to about 119,000 square kilometers, of which about a third in the area of ​​tropical forests - as the territory of Switzerland.

According to experts, this led to the emission of more than two billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere that year - more than the annual emissions of all vehicles in the United States.

At the top of the dubious list of felled countries was Brazil, which was crowned responsible for more than a third of the global logging volume.

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The new study, recently published in the scientific journal Nature Climate Change, examined the activity of a satellite system called GLAD, developed at the University of Maryland in the United States. The system is based on a NASA satellite that collects photographs from places where there is evidence of forest creation.

The data collected is available to users of a computer interface (Global Forest Watch) and an application (Forest Watcher).

Any user who registers for the service can consume information for free and easily, and even report activity in forest deforestation himself.

The innovative system brings a line to the field, because in the past the information that was available to the authorities and environmental organizations about deforestation came mainly from real-time reports from volunteers and forest rangers, which are more limited in nature.

The study, conducted in 2018-2011, included 22 countries in South America, Asia and Africa.

The researchers compared the dimensions of the phenomenon in deforestation in the five years before the use of the system in countries to its dimensions in the first two years of its use.

As mentioned, according to the findings of the study, during the period when the system was used, the loss of the forested areas in the African countries included in the study decreased by no less than about 18 percent.

It should be noted that alongside the impressive results from Africa, the Asian and South American countries examined, no significant changes were recorded in the extent of deforestation.

However, researchers believe that one of the reasons for this is the precarious political situation in these countries: Venezuela, for example, is currently in a severe political and economic crisis, and therefore allocates its resources to other purposes.

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More trees - more money

In recent years, a global trend of defining carbon dioxide emissions as having a monetary cost has been developing.

The researchers stressed that a scenario in which the situation would be reversed in the future could not be ruled out, and the system could even stabilize the economically and politically shaky countries.

This assumption rests on the fact that the climate crisis and the amount of greenhouse gases emitted in the world have an economic estimate, by which the price paid is indirectly calculated for each tonne of greenhouse gases that reach the atmosphere, Farmers that can lead to food insecurity and so on.

In fact, according to the study, in addition to the decline in forestry, during the years of use of the system, the participating African countries were saved $ 696-149 million.

Prof. Dan Yakir from the Department of Earth Sciences and Planets at the Weizmann Institute of Science, winner of the Israel Prize in Earth Sciences, Geology and Atmospheric Sciences, explains that there are several ways in which saving carbon dioxide emissions leads, among other things, to economic gain.

"If you plant not only ornamental trees, but also beneficial trees, such as fruit trees or those from which raw materials can be extracted, it has an economic benefit," he says.

Beyond that, in recent years there has been a global trend of defining carbon dioxide emissions as having a monetary cost.

This is illustrated by the fact that more than 40 countries have imposed a carbon tax on carbon emissions in their territory, through direct taxation of fossil fuels or through trade in emission permits.

According to Yakir, developing countries can benefit from this, through channels such as the UN REDD program, which offers financial incentives to developing countries that reduce the creation of forests in their territory and their carbon emissions. "It will be able to finance the planting of forests in its territory, which will determine the carbon within them, thus compensating for it," he says.

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Younger and lower forests

However, according to Yakir, it is not possible to look at the findings in a one-dimensional way only. “Forests contribute to global climate regulation, but there are also phenomena that may diminish the positive effects,” he says. According to him, in Israel, for example, plantings are not always a good idea, because hairs are relatively dark areas, so they absorb a lot of radiation and heat up more than lighter areas (like the desert), which return a greater amount of sunlight to the atmosphere. "In that case, the wooded areas do absorb a lot of carbon - but they can still contribute to rising temperatures," he says.

In addition, despite the encouraging results of the new study, it should be noted that there are other studies that paint a more pessimistic picture, raising the question of whether the changes that have already occurred due to the climate crisis have led to the crossing of the point of no return. According to recent finds, along with the many forested areas lost, the world's forests have become younger and their trees lower, so that the amount of carbon dioxide stored in them has decreased. Beyond that, the rate of tree mortality has increased significantly in large forests, such as the Amazon and other areas in South America.

"Today, forests absorb close to a third of the earth's carbon dioxide emissions, and this needs to be preserved," says Yakir. He said that despite the many difficulties in preserving the forests, there are also reasons for hope. "Although deforestation currently taking place in places like Brazil is widespread, there is also an active attempt to rehabilitate forests where possible and plant new trees. There is no doubt that solutions such as the GLAD system should be global," he concludes.

The article was prepared by Zavit - the news agency of the Israeli Association of Ecology and Environmental Sciences.

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Source: walla

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