Satellite images reveal shocking rate of deforestation

More than half a million square miles of forest have been lost to the world over the last decade, according to a survey of high-resolution satellite images.

The area of forest lost is equivalent to the entire state of Alaska.

The extent of forests in 2000 (green) compared with the losses (red) and gains (blue) since

The new map, based on imagery captured by the earth-observing Landsat satellite, shows that almost 890,000 square miles of forest were lost between 2000 and 2012.

This loss was replaced by just 309,000 square miles of new trees, with forests in Malaysia, Paraguay, Bolivia, Zambia and Angola bearing the brunt of the losses.

Red areas show forest loss 2000-2012

The one area that saw a strong improvement was in Brazil where attempts to stem rampant deforestation have seen the rate of loss halved from its peak in 2003-4.

The project was the result of a collaboration between scientists at the University of Maryland and Google Earth Engine. Read more about the project here.