The first ever Google Maps Engine grant helps urgent effort to save tigers, rhinos, orangutans and elephants
A powerful new mapping tool developed by Indonesian NGO coalition Eyes on the Forest and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) allows the public to visualize Sumatra’s forests and wildlife such as rhinos, tigers, elephants and orangutan, providing vital information in the race to protect forests, save some of the world’s most important biodiversity and help local communities.
Sumatra is the only place on Earth that is home to elephants, rhinos, tigers and orangutans and its forests are being lost at an alarming rate. As much as 50 percent has been destroyed since 1985, mostly by natural forest clearance for pulp, paper and palm oil production. The map details the shrinking and disappearance of many habitat ranges of the four species over time.
The project will make publicly available a huge and ever growing database of the land cover, land use, land users and biodiversity compiled by many experts over decades of work on the ground in Sumatra. The maps highlight Sumatra’s extraordinary conservation values, the outstanding diversity of its forests, its magnificent wildlife, and the huge carbon stock locked up in its deep peat soils.
“People love maps. So it’s natural that spatial Information is our best tool in saving our last tropical forests. The Eyes on the Forest-Google Maps Engine project puts map-making into our hands so it’s no longer the stuff of specialists,” said Carter Roberts, President and CEO of World Wildlife Fund. “Our conviction is that if we empower people with the information, the forests of Sumatra cannot only be saved, but we can restore them. So instead of rhino, orangutan and tiger numbers getting smaller each year, they get bigger. That’s our dream.”
Source: WWF and Mongabay