Geo-Wiki: scientific initiative and volunteering for the study of the world's forests

February 24, 2019
     People are changing the world, and negative environmental changes are vast and rapid. Of course, one can pretend that nothing special happens, or assume that one person cannot change anything.

     In order to get more knowledge about our planet, scientists from around the world gathered together at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (Austria, Laxenburg) and launched the Geo-Wiki project (www.geo-wiki.org).  This project has been creating unique geospatial information databases for 10 years. It should be stressed that volunteers played a special role in the development of the project. A good example is the implementation of the project aimed at analyzing the global distribution of agricultural fields by size.

     One of the European Union's scientific and innovative strategies is biodiversity support, which is significantly dependent on the state and structure of forests. Human impact on forest ecosystems is obvious, but it is rather difficult to name any specific parameters of these changes if global distribution of forests is considered.

     To explore human impact on forests, the Geo-Wiki team launches a large-scale campaign to analyze this impact, as well as violations in forest ecosystems. Strangely enough, but slash-and-burn agriculture still exists in Africa. In some countries, natural forests were substituted by palm tree and eucalyptus plantations. Tropical rainforests in South America are being cut down, and huge forest areas in the northern part of Eurasia are affected by forest fires. These are just a few examples of the anthropogenic impact on forest ecosystems. Ukraine is no exception because of numerous forest fires, deterioration of forest health, illegal amber extraction and forest poaching. Foresters are trying to protect forests, but they do not always have the authority and the ability to counteract this violation.

Agricultural fields that appeared after deforestation in Paraguay
(www.geo-wiki.org)


Slash-and-burn agriculture in Africa
(www.geo-wiki.org)

Tropical deforestation in South America
( www.geo-wiki.org)

 Untouched rainforests in Africa
(www.geo-wiki.org)


Afforestation of the previously plowed land in Chernihiv region (Ukraine)
(www.geo-wiki.org)

      The first step in implementing this plan was the Nature Map Regional Forestry Expert Workshop at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, which was organized to bring together forestry experts from around the world. Employees of the Department of Forest Mensuration and Forest Management of NUBiP of Ukraine Volodymyr Blyshchyk and Andriy Bilous were invited to participate in this event. It was a daunting task to identify and classify human influence on forest ecosystems in different parts of the planet. The scientists who participated in the workshop prepared the basis for the global analysis of the current state of forests, plantations and distribution of agroforestry.

     Most importantly, anyone interested can contribute to this project and to the study of human influence on forests of the entire planet. The launch of the campaign will be announced shortly. Registration at the project website www.geo-wiki.org is necessary. Follow the project on social networks (www.facebook.com/GeoWiki). 

     As a volunteer, you can help us learn more about forests! Do it!

 

 Andriy Bilous,
Head of the Department of Forest Mensuration
and Forest Management


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