Deforestation is one of those environmental topics that can be hard for some to visualize. Living in a bustling city, imagining what deforestation actually looks like, and what it actually does to the environment can be difficult. It’s different than experiencing the weather shifts caused by global warming or seeing the local landfill overflowing because of humans’ need to consume.

Global Forest Watch

Global Forest Watch shows users what the past 13 years of deforestation looks like.
Image: Global Forest Watch

But a new website hopes to change that. Global Forest Watch, currently in its beta version, has compiled deforestation data from the last 13 years. Using a combination of satellite data and user-generated reports, Global Forest Watch provides a map that allows users to see just how much of our forests have been destroyed.

According to Andrew Steer, CEO of the World Resources Institute (WRI), which launched the new site, the equivalent of 50 soccer fields of forest have been lost every single day for the past 13 years.

“More than half a billion people depend on [forests] for their jobs, their food, their clean water,” he said. “More than half of all terrestrial biodiversity lives in forests.”

And unfortunately, forests fall much faster than they can be grown. Some efforts are being made to plant more trees and cut down fewer, but the sad truth of the matter is that it’s simply not enough.

But now, at least people can see what’s happening. Global Forest watch plans to update monthly using NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Terra and Aqua satellites. This will give the world, for the first time ever, a semi-real time view of deforestation on a global level.