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Global Forest Watch (GFW) is an online forest monitoring platform that was launched in 2014 by the World Resources Institute (WRI) in collaboration with various partners. The platform is an integrated system that facilitates the management, monitoring, and exchange of forest-related information. It is a centralized hub where various stakeholders, such as government agencies, researchers, NGOs , and local communities, can access and contribute to forest-related data, knowledge, and resources.

Global Forest Watch Datasets

Using satellite imagery, Global Forest Watch observes changes in tree cover in near-real-time. Rather than adopting a particular forest definition, GFW monitors all types of tree cover, including natural forests and tree plantations. These monitoring systems rely solely on biophysical factors, such as the height, canopy cover, and extent of trees , with no information about the planned land use. GFW identifies and reports all cases of tree cover loss, irrespective of whether it is temporary (such as clear-cut harvest followed by replanting) or permanent (such as clear-cut harvest followed by agriculture ).

The constitution of forest

A graphic of Global Forest Watch's Forest Resource Assessment. Image source: Global Forest Watch [graphic]. Retrieved 17 April 2023, from https://www.wri.org/technical-perspectives/insider-global-forest-watch-and-forest-resources-assessment-explained-5-graphics.

GFW collaborates with more than 100 organizations to gather data and develop knowledge and expertise, proposing that increased transparency promotes greater accountability in managing and using the world’s remaining forest landscape . However, despite this vast dataset, the carbon offsetting standard Verra described GFW data as "a fantastic tool to identify the occurrence of deforestation across the world and identify hotspots, but has multiple limitations that have been recognized by GFW itself and others." Global Forest Watch acknowledges these limitations on its webpage stating that "satellite-based monitoring systems may overestimate forest area unless combined with additional land-use data sets. No land-use data set currently exists at an adequate resolution or updated frequency to enable this analysis at global scale."

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