The synoptic nature of satellite-based earth observation data enables the consistent characterization of forest cover across space and over time. Information on forest extent and hcange is necessary for carbon accounting efforts as well as for parameterizing global-scale biogeochemical, hydrological, biodiversity and climate models. Due to the vast area that must be examined, earth observation data offer one of the few viable information sources suitable for global-scale monitoring of forest dynamics. Data from NASA's MODerate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIES) have been used to estimate global forest cover in the form of the Vegetation Continuous Field of percent tree cover, a standard product of the MODIS Land Science Team. The method for creating the VCF tree cover layer was later adapted for estimating forest cover change. Turnkey algorithms have been implemented per forest biome (boreal, temperate, dry and humid tropics) and used to indicate areas of homogeneous forest cover loss for stratified sampling of Landsat data to create per biome and global estimates of gross forest cover loss. However, coarse resolution data such as MODIS lack sufficient spatial detail to provide reliable area estimates of forest extent and change.