Within just the first three years of operational monitoring, the near-real time GLAD alerts of tree cover loss produced by the Global Land Analysis and Discovery (GLAD) lab have been shown to lower the probability of deforestation. Fanny Moffette of University of Wisconsin-Madison, in collaboration with Amy Pickens of our department and researchers from Oregon State University and World Resources Institute (WRI), evaluated the impact of the GLAD alerts on deforestation rates across 22 tropical countries through a sample-based assessment. Users can subscribe to receive emails of new GLAD alerts with their own area of interest through the Global Forest Watch platform. Excluding subscriptions from academics and WRI staff and those >100Mha, the subscriptions give a good indication of where the alerts may be used with the intent of controlling deforestation. While just the availability of alerts did not lower forest loss probabilities, African forests within the area of these user subscriptions had an 18% lower probability of loss after the time of subscription relative to the average of 2011-2016. This corresponds to an estimated 495 km2 of avoided deforestation per year. The annual value of this avoided carbon emissions is conservatively estimated at $149-$696 million (USD) using the social cost of carbon and the forests’ carbon density. No robust effects were found in Asia or South America. This study demonstrates the value of continuing to invest in operation near-real time alert systems and user outreach.
Full study in Nature Climate Change: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41558-020-00956-w