Geos Institute helps communities build resilience in the face of climate change

New Global Forest Information Center

Contacts:
Dominick A. DellaSala, Ph.D., Chief Scientist & President, Geos Institute, 541-482-4459 x302
James Strittholt, Ph.D., President & Executive Director, Conservation Biology Institute, 541-757-0687 x 1

Ashland, OR – Scientists from the Geos Institute, Ashland and Conservation Biology Institute, Corvallis are building a first of its kind global forest-tracking center designed to monitor and call attention to the world’s alarming deforestation footprint. The Global Forest Information Center will be housed in a state-of-the art and Internet-based conservation data-sharing system developed by the Conservation Biology Institute (CBI) that was publicly launched in 2010. Known as Data Basin (databasin.org), the system already contains over 8,000 conservation spatial datasets for environmental monitoring.

The Global Forest Information Center will be added to Data Basin by initially focusing on temperate rainforests of the world and boreal forests of northern latitudes with plans to branch out globally within three years.

According to co-founder and project director, Dominick DellaSala, Chief Scientist and President of Geos Institute, “The main purpose of the Global Forest Information Center is to tap into the information revolution to send out alarm bells about the world’s rapidly dwindling intact forests while there is still time to protect these irreplaceable gems. This is a natural progression from the work we did last year to document the global importance of the world’s most threatened rainforests.”

Over half of the world’s forests are already gone and in the last decade global deforestation rates have averaged 50,000 square-miles each year, the equivalent of nearly half the state of Oregon. Only in the last few decades have scientists begun to seriously and broadly document the diversity of life and the myriad of life-giving ecosystem benefits we get from forests worldwide. The Global Forest Information Center will tap
into thousands of scientific assessments and make use of state-of-the art satellite imagery to track humanity’s expanding global deforestation footprint and will begin preparing “State-of-the Nation Forest Reports” that monitor the “Vital Signs” of forests, including their ability to continue providing freshwater, air purification, and wildlife habitat in a changing climate.

According to co-founder James Strittholt, “The Global Forest Information Center is a natural fit for us and a chance to blend forest tracking systems with internet services we built through Data Basin. It is our intent to team with scientists, agencies, land managers, and anyone else having an interest in tracking land-use changes and providing shared solutions to the world’s growing environmental problems.”

Partnering with conservation groups around the world, the Global Forest Information Center is scheduled to-be-launched to the public in the fall of 2012 using a seed grant already received from a private foundation. The seed grant will allow the Center to start building datasets for the Pacific Northwest and Alaska right away.

According to DellaSala, “we chose the Pacific Northwest and Alaska rainforests because these forests play a pivotal role in stabilizing the global climate, provide freshwater for salmon and people, contain some of the last and most carbon-dense old-growth forests in the temperate zone, and are threatened by proposed increases in logging.” The founding organizations intend to raise $1 million to go global within 3 years and will make the system available to decision makers, land managers, and the general public beginning in late fall.

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