High-res satellite imagery

The highest-resolution imagery displayed by Google Earth is around 60cm, which means that each pixel on a computer screen will represent 60cm on the ground. Often mistaken for aerial photography, this is high enough resolution to view logging roads, trucks, even individual trees and logs. It exceeds the 5m resolution that is the highest available for free on Global Forest Watch. However, it is only provided for some areas, with most displaying Landsat imagery at around 15m per pixel, and is only intermittently updated.

It is possible to search for, preview and buy additional highest-resolution imagery (including the Worldview imagery used by Google Earth) directly from commercial providers. A useful tool for identifying available imagery is the ‘Image Hunter‘ provided by Apollo Mapping. This imagery is expensive to buy, at US$16 per square kilometer (km2), with a minimum order covering 25km2. In some cases, it is nonetheless possible to preview imagery for free (including for Worldview imagery). These previews are less than full resolution, but nevertheless provide higher resolution than that available from Landsat imagery.

Satellite imaging is a fast-moving field, with several organisations working to increase the accessibility of high-resolution, processed imagery. It is likely to become increasingly accessible and useful for forest monitoring.