Sunday, March 23, 2014

Roads: driving development or deforestation?

EurActiv: Roads in the tropics often go hand in hand with economic development. But the day before the International Day of Forests (21 March), an MEP and a number of scientists called for a response to the role they play in deforestation.

Ways of measuring forest destruction are becoming increasingly sophisticated. This week, an initiative from Mongabay, an environmental publication, and NASA’s Ames Research Center, won the prestigious Katerva Award for a Global Forest Disturbance Alert System to map the destruction of forests, on a quarterly basis.

The system uses satellite imagery to detect deforestation when it occurs, so that measures can be taken to investigate it before it expands. Similarly, satellite images have revealed the way forests can deplete soon after the construction of a road nearby.

“95% of forest loss occurs within 50 km of a road. Scientific reports and satellite imagery have demonstrated road building is a major driver of deforestation, from the Amazon to Indonesian and Congo Basin forests,” said Kriton Arsenis, a Greek MEP affiliated with the Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament....

A dirt road in Brazil, shot by Figueirao, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license 

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