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Google’s Forest Change Explorer helps kids visualize deforestation

Google has launched a new website in conjunction with Science in the Classroom and Dr. Matt Hansen of the University of Maryland, known as the Global Forest Change Explorer. The hope is that by mapping global changes in forests, detailing the causes of deforestation, and the resurgence of certain forests, it will help children better understand the importance of these ecosystems all over the world.

Combining Google Earth technology with comprehensive statistics on the state of forests around the world, the interactive site lets you view the extent to which some countries are seeing their forest habitats destroyed.

More than that though, the site is designed to act as a tool for teachers and students alike, letting them make comparisons between countries to look at differing rates of deforestation and reforestation, and visualize trends across the globe.

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This is something that Matt Hansen has been encouraging for years already. As Google explains in its related blog post, he previously used Google Earth to map out changes in forest cover using cloud-based image processing. He hopes that with this new platform, more people — especially the young — will take an interest in the state of forests globally and help to preserve them for the future.

Science in the Classroom, an organization that brings scientific data to schools in an easy- to-digest package, supported this idea and helped Google in building the Forest Change Explorer to make accessing that information easier for teachers and students.

That data will be continually updated in the future, with additions made by researchers and processionals around the world, as well as through remote sensing tools which can help corroborate details from researchers on the ground.

You can access the data set and tools on the official GlobalForestChange website, and you can also access the downloadable curriculum, which provides tests and other tasks for students to pursue after spending some time with the data.