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Google creates 'near-real-time' deforestation tracking tool

Google is bringing awareness to global deforestation with a new website that lets users see how the world's forests have been being cut down since 2000.

The Silicon Valley tech giant has partnered with the World Resources Institute and numerous other organizations to launch Global Forest Watch, a visual map website that lets anyone track deforestation around the world

Global Forest Watch shows data for deforestation going back to 2000, and it includes numerous analytical features. For example, users can customize what time period they want to analyze. They can also focus on specific geographic locations by drawing lines on a map.

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Global Forest Watch's most valuable feature, developers say, is that it can be updated with new information every month, detecting "changes in forest cover in near-real-time."

"Now that we have the ability to peer into forests, a number of telling stories are beginning to emerge," Google said in a blog post.

The tool could change the way forests are managed, said Andrew Steer, president and chief executive of the World Resources Institute, in a statement. 

Global Forest Watch is powered with information from 40 organizations as well as Google Map Engine and Google Earth Engine.

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