High-quality and timely data is critical to evidence-based advocacy. Unfortunately, it is also often hard to come by. That’s why I am grateful to have discovered the World Resources Institute’s new Global Forest Watch platform, which provides precisely the kind of data advocates so desperately need to effect change.


Global Forest Watch uses satellite technology, open data, and crowdsourcing to guarantee access to timely and reliable information about forests.

Their robust new application allows users to map and analyze an array of forest-related datasets, visit country-specific portals for detailed national-level statistics and context, and sign up for email alerts to be informed when new forest loss occurs in a country. Users can also download raw data, visualize global trends and country rankings, and even view first-hand accounts of forest-related activity on the ground submitted by other Global Forest Watch users. Through this impressive new project, the World Resources Institute (WRI) provides not only indispensable data but also the tools necessary to make sense of that data. With work like this, it is no wonder WRI was named the top environmental think tank in 2012 and 2013 according to University of Pennsylvania’s annual Global Go-To Think Tanks Index Report. Kudos, WRI!

Here at PAI, we have already begun incorporating this data into our work. I encourage others to do the same. Find out how Global Forest Watch can be a powerful tool for NGOs, businesses, governments and indigenous communities here.

Visual Insight is a monthly blog series focusing on mapping and data visualizations. To read last month’s post, click here