Many remote areas in tropical forest are still poorly mapped. Images from space, along with government, research and other publicly available information, help us identify existing roads in tropical forests, so we can improve the road and forest maps for sites in previously uncharted regions.
We combine advanced time-series of satellite imagery at fine spatial resolution with the latest publicly available road data and forest mapping research. By processing these data, we will be able to plot roads and assess forest condition (disturbances over the last 3 decades) through our study sites in African, Southeast Asian and South American tropical forests, and to understand better the role of road development in driving forest cover changes.
Your help can make sure these maps are as accurate as possible. We’re asking mapping enthusiasts to add information as it becomes available and fill in missing detail – ultimately helping predict changes that can impact the whole planet.
The task covers huge areas and is highly labour-intensive – the dense vegetation of tropical forests and their remoteness from communities limit traditional mapping technology. With RoadlessForest, we are piloting crowdsourced mapping for this task to make it more manageable.
Our maps will be available on OpenStreetMap, a free-to-use open-source map built by mappers all over the world. OpenStreetMap is subject to constant review by its community, and in many areas is becoming the de facto standard in publicly-available road data. By making OpenStreetMap more complete and accurate, we support a wide range of applications, and we will develop an online platform to provide easy access via smartphone, tablet or desktop computer.
Tropical forests protect us from climate change and are a haven for biodiversity.. Most forest loss, degradation and fragmentation occurs in a “risk zone” around transport networks, both planned and unplanned.
At the global level, the EU is at the frontline of work on combating deforestation and forest degradation. It promotes sustainable forest management as a way of protecting biodiversity, fighting desertification and responding to climate change, whilst ensuring that forest ecosystems deliver goods and services.
Although communities need roads to access markets, hospitals and schools, roads also open up the forest to possible damage. In tropical areas, new road building is often followed by secondary roads being created, often unplanned or illegal, which then trigger further degradation and deforestation. The remoteness of some areas makes it especially hard to monitor and manage this change.
This pilot project aims to provide up-to-date data, to help plan infrastructure wisely and spot possible areas where the forest is in danger. The Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, with funding from the European Parliament, is building a road and forest atlas for tropical regions to support sustainable development.
To achieve our ambitious goals we want to build a true global partnership to protect tropical forests. Your input – wherever you are – will support leading experts in ecology, mapping and information technology.
Just take a look at who we’ve got joining us on the journey...
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