Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.


Deploy international satellite monitoring to safeguard forests

I contend that an internationally coordinated satellite monitoring system is urgently needed to safeguard forests against governments that deny climate change. Earth-observation and image-processing techniques have improved since the move was proposed eight years ago (J. Lynch et al. Nature 496, 293–294; 2013). Moreover, the cost of remote-sensing missions is falling.

Many international institutions and countries, including Australia, Brazil, China and India, have modern systems for monitoring forests. However, there are no agreed protocols on how forest data should be produced, verified, stored and made freely available. Neither is there an international warning system for illegal deforestation and forest degradation.

Such a system would need to be effective, comprehensive and properly coordinated and supervised. It could use a real-time early-warning mechanism, such as that of the Brazilian satellite-based DETER, for environmental monitoring and law enforcement (S. J. Goetz et al. Environ. Res. Lett. 10, 123001; 2015). DETER led to a decline in Amazon deforestation: the rate fell from more than 27,000 square kilometres in 2004 to about 10,000 square kilometres in 2019 (see

Nature 593, 510 (2021)


Competing Interests

The author declares no competing interests.


Nature Careers


Nature Briefing

An essential round-up of science news, opinion and analysis, delivered to your inbox every weekday.

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing


Quick links