Forests cover nearly a third of the earth’s surface. They store 45 percent of carbon on the planet. Forests are changing faster than in recent history. We are losing forest cover faster than it can be replaced by new growth. Often, forested areas are being replaced by agricultural or mining operations. There has been a need for technologies that enable more local and regional forest monitoring to enable better forest stewardship. Forest management rests in the hands of regional forest conservation and resource policy communities. It is critical to understand the different types of pressures (natural and human) that are changing our forests. Forest mapping systems have been effective, but they have mostly been developed as centralized data systems. These systems are not easily accessible to nonexperts concerned with conservation of forest resources.
In 2008, Greg Asner launched CLASlite v1.0 [Carnegie Landsat Analysis System (lite) v1.0] to empower nonexperts with the ability to monitor forests (1). The CLASlite system converts satellite images to maps of forest cover and is able to monitor changes in forest cover over time (1). The software brought a significant change in providing a powerful tool to people in the front line of forest management and protection. It promoted learning and understanding of forest monitoring in communities. Peru’s Ministry of Environment incorporated CLASlite v2.0 into their national programs (1). In 2013 Greg Asner launched CLASlite v3, which supports forest monitoring from nine satellites, including Landsat. Greg also developed the CLASlite Classroom, a free online Carnegie Institution course hosted by Stanford University. The course was offered in English and in Spanish.
Starting in 2020, the software moved to its new home at claslite.org in a collaborative effort between i-Cultiver, Greg Asner and Carnegie Institution. The software is now available for a low-cost annual license. This transition opens up the use of its powerful features to any user, academic, non-profit, and commercial users. The free CLASlite courses offered in English and Spanish have also found a new home on edX. In addition, the software is available for a 30-day free trial to students taking the online course.
We are happy to bring CLASlite back to all the previous users spanning over 3000 organizations from over 130 countries, and to expand its use to commercial organizations.
Rajnish Khanna, Ph.D.
Founder & CEO,
- Asner, G.P. (2014) Satellites and psychology for improved forest monitoring. PNAS. 111: 567-568
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