GLAD for Forest Monitoring Options! Part 3

We are back with Ruth Nogueron of the World Resources Institute (WRI) talking about Global Forest Watch (GFW) and GLAD (Global Land Analysis and Discovery) alerts. Last week Ruth talked about how to navigate the Global Forest Watch platform. This week we’ll talk about how to use that cool stuff for due care.

Can you identify illegal logging with the alerts?

Ruth: By themselves, the alerts are not enough to identify areas where illegal logging is occurring. However, with the right contextual information, users can make inferences about the causes and legality of clearing.

Compared to other commodities, logging can be tricky because alerts will always be detected when cutting occurs, whether it is legal or not. So it is essential that users compare the location of alerts with other spatial and non-spatial information such as forest management plans. Here are three examples of how Global Forest Watch and the GLAD alerts can help assess legality or potentially controversial sources:

1. Potential encroachment in protected areas from neighboring logging concessions. For this example, we go to the Republic of Congo on the map, turning off the default layers and turn on the logging concessions from the land use tab to the left of the screen. We will also turn on the protected areas layer. We zoom to the Odzala National Park which is next to a logging concession.

Turning on the GLAD alerts we can see that in the southeastern part of the park, the pink pixels appear to encroach from the concession into the park. If a company is sourcing from this area, this is something that might require additional investigation.

2. Potential timber laundering. Now focusing on Equatorial Guinea, we turn the protected areas off and focus on a forest management area. When I run the analysis there are no alerts for the Jan 2015-July 2019 time frame. If your supplier is telling you the timber is coming from this operation and there is no evidence of tree cover loss, this should raise suspicion and might indicate that the timber is coming from somewhere else.

3. Sourcing from potentially controversial areas. Finally, we zoom in on a timber concession in Indonesia. I can turn on the Intact Forest Landscapes layer from the “Land Cover” tab, and change the transparency of the datasets to see the overlap more clearly. Running the analysis shows 197,701 GLAD alerts. But I also see that there are alerts within intact forest landscapes that were reduced between 2000 and 2013. While the logging might be perfectly legal in these areas, it might be controversial for some stakeholders. If a company is sourcing from this area, this is something it might want to pay close attention to.

So very interesting! Thank you, Ruth and, speaking of next steps, next week we talk about the limitations and the future of Global Forest Watch and the GLAD alerts to wrap up this series.

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Elizabeth Baldwin is Environmental Compliance Officer for Metropolitan Hardwood Floors. In her 25 plus year career in the wood industry has visited over 70 countries and hundreds of facilities of all sizes and types. She describes herself as a “jack of all wood trades.” Familiar with jungles of all sorts–having camped out along the Amazon and walked the halls of Congress–she blogs for the NWFA on both environmental and regulatory issues for educational and informational purposes only. Her blog is not intended and should not be construed as legal advice. Persons seeking legal advice on compliance with CARB, TSCA, the U.S. Lacey Act or any other law, regulation, or compliance requirement/claim should consult with the regulatory agency directly and/or a qualified legal professional.

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