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Google Earth aiding Malaysia in forest conservation

Petaling Jaya, Malaysia: Google Earth is proving a favourite tool of environmental groups and authorities to check illegal forest clearing and land occupation, observed Datuk Seri Ahmad Said, Chief Minister of Terengganu, Malaysia, a Malaysian daily reported. Seri revealed that the state government was using it to detect illegal occupation of government-owned land in the state, adding that stern action would be taken from this year against the culprits, which included civil servants.
Commenting on this, Malaysian Nature Society Selangor branch vice-chairman Lim Teck Wyn told The Star that Google Earth was effective in getting a general overview of any area. “There’s a useful function which allows us to do a time lapse observation by comparing older satellite images with recent ones,” he added.
Lim, a forestry consultant, said this helped to detect recent logging activities as the change in forest mass would be obvious. However, he stressed that there was no substitute for ground checks as Google Earth images are not always recent or detailed.
WWF-Malaysia chief executive officer and executive director Datuk Dr Dionysius Sharma said Google Earth was helpful in calculating an overview of forest loss or land changes. “It helps us to see whether the government is keeping its pledge to maintain 50 percent of the country’s land mass under forest cover,” he said.
Dr Sharma added, however, that the organisation mostly derived its information regarding illegal logging or animal smuggling from its on-site staff.
Source: The Star