Global forest monitoring system enables free access to satellite images of tropics in efforts to stop deforestation

A new global forest monitoring system, which provides universal access to satellite images of the tropics, aims to support efforts to stop the destruction of the world’s rainforests.

The Norwegian government is now making the images accessible and free for everyone, through Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI).

Satellite images are available that are so detailed that one can see if a single tree has been cut down. The high-resolution satellite images provide an overview of all the tropical forests around the world, and these images will be updated every month. Users can access image archives that include data dating back to 2015. This allows users to see the development that has taken place in the forests over several years.

Now anyone around the world – whether they are authorities, companies buying raw materials, investors, journalists, scientists, indigenous organisations or NGOs – can detect deforestation occurring in very small areas.

Prior to the move by Norway’s Ministry of Climate and Environment to make these satellite images free of charge, such images were expensive, and only a few private stakeholders had access to them. 

Sveinung Rotevatn, Norway’s Minister of Climate and Environment, said: “This will revolutionise global forest monitoring. Better insight into what is happening in the rainforests will enhance efforts to protect these priceless ecosystems

Small communities can now be seen and heard in their struggle with companies that steal their rightful territories. The world’s supermarkets can monitor claims made by their suppliers regarding the sustainable production of soy, palm oil and other raw materials.

“The fight to combat deforestation and forest crime is more important than ever before.”

Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI) has supported satellite-based rainforest monitoring for many years, including through a collaboration with Google and the World Resources Institute called Global Forest Watch. This project uses satellite data to detect forest changes.

Norway also supports SEPAL, an analysis tool  developed by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations”, that helps forested countries gain an overview of deforestation and land use.

Norway pays several tropical forest countries, including Indonesia and Colombia, to reduce emissions caused by deforestation. According to the Norwegian government, better images reduce the uncertainties associated with the estimates.


Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyle including sustainable and green living. She also offers content services to businesses and individuals at

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