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Google-powered map will watch all Earth's forests in real time

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The world's forests are being rapidly destroyed, and a new map hopes to help conservationists figure out everywhere that it's happening. Using technologies from Google Maps and Google Earth, the World Resources Institute has created an interactive map that shows forest coverage almost in real time, marking where coverage has increased and — more often — where it's decreased. The map is being called Global Forest Watch and is available for anyone to explore. It appears to be using data from a variety of sources, including NASA, to analyze forest coverage, and it's also capable of highlighting what different forests are being used for and where lands have been protected.

When the map was announced last year, World Resources Institute suggested that it would be a critical tool for conservationists. "Deforestation continues today in part because by the time satellite images are available, analyzed, and shared, the forest clearing is long done," it wrote. Now that Global Forest Watch is available, the institute hopes that governments, law enforcement agencies, and conservationists will begin using it to monitor their local lands, allowing them to take action to protect forests much quicker than they could have in the past.