Global remote sensing images available free of charge

For the first time worldwide, free and ready-to-use moderate-resolution satellite data is now available on the web. The Global Forest Resource Assessment Portal is a collaborative initiative of:

  • FAO
  • EU, European Commission, Global Forest Resource Monitoring (TREES-3)
  • United States Geologic al Survey (USGS)
  • The Geographic Information Science Center of Excellence (GIScCE)

The remote sensing data is essential in monitoring deforestation. The importance of monitoring deforestation is crucial in order for countries to be able to benefit from the REDD+ mechanism. The site provides vital information that can be used for the National Green House Gas Inventories for the forestry sector and the remote sensing data will contribute to the so-called Tier 1 level; the least detailed of the three different levels of the IPCC’s methodology reporting.

The fact that the data available on the web site is free of charge is fundamental, as the REDD+ beneficiaries are developing countries. The site provides satellite images from 1990, 2000 and 2005. The site is easy to use: one can select a specific country from a scroll down menu and images from the country will appear for the three reference years. The database consists of 13,689 samples of 10 km squares located at the junction of each latitude and longitude line across the globe (excluding Antarctica).
Public users can find out about the study and view and download the Landsat data. Authorized national expert users can login and download draft labeled polygons for checking and then upload the validated data.

This remote sensing data available on the web is part of the Global Forest Resource Assessment 2010 (FRA 2010). The remote sensing is a new component to FRA that until now has been based mainly on data that countries provide to FAO in response to a common questionnaire. FAO then compiles and analyses the information and presents the current status of the world’s forest resources and their changes over time. The assessments have a wide scope, providing a holistic perspective on global forest resources, their management and uses.