Natural forests are the source life. Forests are home to countless species of bio-diversity and eco-systems that sustain life. They also provide clean air (oxygen) and filter carbon dioxide creating a perfect environment for our existence. Forests are the source of water and water is another fundamental element that sustains humankind on earth. Forests also mitigate extreme climate aiding in erratic weather patterns that seem to be the most prevalent environmental impact of this century. Its importance is immense that issues related to forests are topping the global political arena in recent times.
However the world continues to suffer deforestation losing 64.4 million hectares of natural forests in the last five years. Although reforestation slows net forest shrinkage, annual deforestation affects an area the size of Panama, totaling to a loss of 7.3 million hectares of natural forests.
Deforestation is a major challenge in many of the countries because most of the trees are felled illegally. Global illegal logging amounts to US US15 billion per annum. In addition to depriving Governments of economic gains, illegal logging promote social injustice, depriving local communities of their livelihoods and harm global environment causing landslides, tidal waves, and extremely hostile weather patterns such as deadly heat waves, massive flooding, haze and draught. Therefore Governments across the globe are enhancing forest governance to practice sustainable forestry. Sustainable forestry includes monitoring forest cover to keep tract of number of trees felled or the size of lost. Such collation of data is viable through the usage of Geospatial Technologies that include geographic information system (GIS), global positioning system (GPS) and remote sensing (RS).
In Malaysia, Transparency International – Malaysia through the Forest Governance Integrity (FGI) Programme is enhancing forest governance through many ways and one of it is through public participation. The Forest Watch Project is a mechanism for the public to become eyes and ears of the forests. Using the Google Earth Geospatial Technology (satellite imagery, aerial photography and GIS 3D globe), the public have access to aerial view of the forests allowing regular monitoring of forest cover. The Project provides a reporting mechanism that allows public direct access to relevant authorities – a Monitoring and Advisory Team of Experts responsible for forest governance in Malaysia. Would you like to submit a report?