Climate Action

Global Deforestation in Real-Time

Laws and agreements are only as good as their enforcement, right? What good is a 60 MPH speed limit if there are no police around to enforce it? You might like how that sounds, but in reality it means there is no law enforcement. I don’t think anarchy sounds like a good idea to anybody. So when it comes to laws and international agreements concerning deforestation, how are they enforced? Simply on hope? Crossed fingers? Certainly we don’t and can’t have enforcement officers on the ground in some of the most remote corners of Brazil, Peru, Indonesia, etc. How can we “trust but verify” without any practical way to verify, just trust? With much more advanced mapping and satellite technology, that’s how. Accurate deforestation measurements have always been fuzzy at best, in part because satellites couldn’t resolve objects smaller than 1,640 feet across. But a new system can see objects just 98 feet across. That will make deforestation measurements and carbon accounting much more precise – and all in real time. This is not just good news for the countries that want to hold others to their pledges and obligations. There is no shortage of impoverished nations that suffer from illegal, unreported, and/or unregulated logging. Many do not have the funds and/or manpower to enforce their laws – whether they want to or not. But with these new technologies, it can be made crystal clear where the illegal logging is taking place. Smaller, poorer nations will find out where to shepherd their resources. They will be able to hold up their pledges that much better. The agreements will have actual teeth, and more importantly will accomplish their intended goals. This is win-win all around, unless you are in the illegal lumber trade. And if you are, we are glad that new technologies are watching you, keeping our forests just that much safer, and putting you out of business for good.