Research Highlight: Caution needed when interpreting High Resolution Global Forest Map

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Fig. 1 Selected examples of Hansen et al.’s (1) failures in classifying of tree plantations (A to E) and herbal crops (F to H) as forest. The colors in the right halves of each panel indicate stable forest (green), forest loss (red), forest gain (blue), and forest loss and gain (magenta).

Hansen et al. (Science 342:850-853) published a high-resolution global forest map with detailed information on local forest loss and gain. A group of researchers show that Hansen et al.’s map does not distinguish tropical forests from plantations and even herbaceous crops, which leads to a substantial underestimate of forest loss and compromises its value for local policy decisions.

  • Original paper: Hansen et al. 2013.High-Resolution Global Maps of 21st-Century Forest Cover Change. Science 342: 850-853 (Link to Hansen et al.’s response)
  • Critique: Tropek et al. 2014. Comment on “High-resolution global maps of 21st-century forest cover change”. Science 344: 981. (Link to Tropek et al.’s comment)
  • Response to critique: Hansen et al. 2014. Response to Comment on “High-resolution global maps of 21st-century forest cover change”. Science 344:981. (Link to Hansen et al.’s response)