The United Nations in partnership with Google has unveiled a new software called ‘Open Foris,’ to help tackle climate change, deforestation and food production issues.
The online platform which was launched by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (UNFAO) will use a high-resolution satellite to send images to monitor changes in land use and forest cover.
According to Erik Lindquist, forestry officer at UNFAO, Open Foris has enabled the agency get answers from data analysed more quickly than before.
Another benefit of Open Foris is that it will be free of charge and available to everyone, including members of the public. Citizens will be able, if they want, to monitor misuse of natural resources. The software will also allow scientists and governments to assess things such as the carbon storage capacity of a certain area, and hopefully, take appropriate action.
A lot of concerns have been raised on the state of forests such as knowing the total forest area in the world, how much forest is being lost and gained, how is land use changing and the effects on carbon emissions.
In Lindquist’s opinion, online tools such as the Open Foris will help measure impacts and know if the situation is improving or getting worse. Open Foris will also enable the inspection of water resources and it will possibly help with the evaluation of locations for refugee camps, according to the availability of firewood for cooking.
A similar software was launched in the beginning of July by Medecins Sans Frontieres – MapSwipe app – and it enables users to map remote, rural regions which are vulnerable to humanitarian crises, thanks to satellite images.