Global Forest Maps Give Local Insights

Written by Erica Simek Sloniker (GIS & Visual Communications) & Ryan Haugo (Senior Forest Ecologist)

Data showing global forest change is providing a glimpse into local stories about Pacific Northwest forests. The University of Maryland, Google and other partners are using satellite data to analyze all types of forest loss, including harvest, fire and tree deaths due to insect outbreaks, in addition to also tracking forest gain. The Landsat satellite system that captures this data is capable of delivering global coverage every 8 days, giving incredible insight into how forest change is monitored globally and locally.  Data was collected between 2000 and 2013. Scroll below to see four local case studies.

CENTRAL CASCADES: Forest gain is shown in blue from regrowth of trees following Plum Creek Timber harvests in the Central Cascades south of Cle Elum. Forest loss is shown in red north of Cle Elum in the Teanaway from harvesting & fire prior to protection from the creation of the Teanaway Community Forests in 2013.

OLYMPIC PENINSULA: Harvesting and regrowth on the Olympic Peninsula near Forks.

OKANOGAN: Striking swaths of red in north central Washington show forest loss as a result of the 2006 Tripod Complex wildfire, which burned over 175,000 acres. The Tripod Complex wildfire is now sandwiched between the 2014 Carlton Complex and the 2015 Okanogan complex fires, which burned over 500,000 combined acres.

BRITISH COLUMBIA: Forest loss in red is likely from pine beetle outbreaks in British Columbia.

Data Sources: InciWeb, FAMWEB, “Okanogan Complex Wildfire now Biggest in State History” Seattle Times – August 25, 2015