New map of forest heights around the world released by NASA

Scientists have released a new kind of map that uses NASA satellite data to show the height of forest canopies around the world.

Although there are other local- and regional-scale forest canopy maps, the new map is the first that spans the entire globe based on one uniform method. The work -- based on data collected by NASA's ICESat, Terra, and Aqua satellites -- should help scientists build an inventory of how much carbon the world's forests store and how fast that carbon cycles through ecosystems and back into the atmosphere.

The map reveals that the world's tallest forests are clustered in the American Pacific Northwest, and areas of Southeast Asia.

First-of-its-Kind Map Depicts Global Forest Heights (



  1. NorCal REPRESENT!

    We’ve also got the tallest mountain and deepest valley in the contiguous U.S. Not to brag or anything.

  2. Notice that Thailand has almost no forest and the surrounding forest more or less follows its borders. Is this due to increased logging in Thailand, or are the borders the result of some natural geographic feature?

  3. British Columbia here. It looks to be one of the greenest (tallest) areas on the map.

    It is, however, rapidly shrinking. =(

    1. Are you sure about that ironix?

      BC has more forests that are over a century old than it did 40 years ago – 25 million hectares (62 million acres) compared to 18 million hectares (44 million acres). And there are 13 million hectares (32 million acres) of forests older than 160 years, compared to only 10 million hectares (25 million acres) four decades ago (based on MoF comparison with 1957 inventory).

      In eight years, BC has doubled its protected areas to 13.8 percent of the province – one of the highest percentages in North America.

      BC’s protected areas are larger than all of the forest area ever logged in the forest. BC’s protected areas total 11.7 million hectares (29 million acres). A total of about 9.4 million hectares (23.2 million acres) of the province’s forested area has been logged over time (5.6 million hectares or 13.8 million acres are forests).

      1. I think there are a lot of numbers to consider in this issue and one of them is the actual amount of old growth remaining, rather than the percentage of it being protected. Also, ‘forest’ is a general term but there is a big difference between an old growth forest and a secondary one. This from the Sierra Club;

        “The government’s 2008 Coastal Forest Action Plan does nothing to reverse the trend of unsustainable logging. It sets no targets for the protection of the last remaining old growth stands on the south coast, and does not even acknowledge their status as a dwindling resource. In addition, the plan proposes to speed up the rotation of second-growth forests by 20 years, increase the harvest rates and continue raw log exports.”

        Good to see your numbers, though because I think some positive changes are being made.

        1. Absolutely. I didn’t mean to imply everything was hunky-dory. Just that things aren’t as dire here in BC as all that. The mountain pine beetle seems to be by far the worst problem as opposed to logging – which is of course a problem related directly to global warming and the beetle not dying out in winter.

          Yes there are still issues to be fought. I’m actually a graphic designer but I’ve worked with the Faculty of Forestry in UBC for a while and have been really impressed by their emphasis on conservation.

      2. It’s important to keep in mind which of forests are being cut versus those being protected. Typically, political compromise results in the most productive forests being logged and the less productive forests (and rock and ice) being protected. The forests that are most biologically-rich and carbon-rich are most at risk because they have the most economically valuable trees to mine.

  4. Interesting how the border with Wisconsin of Michigan’s UP is closely defined. Not exact, but close. My dad and stepmom live up in the middle of some of that green. Very nice.

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