Most people who work at CABI know that I am a bit of a geek, especially when it comes to statistics and data visualisation, but now even more so since the release of the Google Earth API and thematic mapping. Anyway, back to the point, I was doing a search for new "environmental science" projects and layers that are being produced for/using Google Earth data, when I came across these wonderful 3D visualisations at the Google Earth Outreach.
The layer that interested the inner geek was "Disappearing Forests". This data layer shows the state of forests around the world by using polygons to represent rates of deforestation. It includes country profiles, providing high quality information in the placement balloons.
The world has lost close to half of its forests already, and the continued rate of deforestation contributes greatly to climate change and the loss of global biodiversity. When you first load the Disappearing Forests KMZ, you will see deforestation rate by area. Red indicates a decline in forests, and the scale indicates the number of hectares changed in the last year. Each country has a pie chart, which if clicked on, provides further information on the state of the forests. You can also choose from a list of other forest maps in the Places pane under the folder called "Country deforestation data".
The development of this layer should be credited to David Tryse, who has been involved in some of my other favourite layers, including the Edge of Existence collections (Mammals & also Amphibians). To create the Disappearing Forests KML, David used data from the World Resources Institute (WRI): The Last Frontier Forests: Ecosystems and Economies on the Edge (1997), Greenpeace: The Worlds Last Intact Forest Landscapes (2006), and United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization: Global Forest Resources Assessment (2005). David used the following tools: PHP(+Ming for flash counter) & MySQL: XAMPP, World Borders Dataset (+chartAPI-icon idea): thematicmapping.