Intact Forest Landscapes in Newfoundland

(2015-12-13) During July and August 2015, Global Forest Watch Canada’s Executive Director, Wynet Smith, travelled around the island of Newfoundland, taking in the amazing land and meeting friendly people, while undertaking some site visits to areas Global Forest Watch Canada had mapped. We already submitted one story on the international GFW site on intact forest landscapes in south central Newfoundland. This story provides an overview of the entire island.

Global Forest Watch Canada uses geographic information systems (GIS), digital datasets on development activities, and satellite imagery, to map areas that have been disturbed by the activities, and to identify those areas that still remain as largely undisturbed, what we call intact forest landscapes. Our methods of mapping intact forest landscapes differ slightly from the methods used to map the global product that is displayed on the, interactive map. Thus, our results are different in some areas. Full details will be published in early 2016.
At 111,222 square kilometres (42,943 square miles), the island of Newfoundland represents 27 percent of the total land area of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. It is just a bit smaller than the state of Louisiana. Approximately 106,323 square kilometres (41,051 square miles), or 96 percent, of the island is forested with at least 10 percent tree canopy cover. 
According to our mapping, the island of Newfoundland had 51,954 square kilometres of intact forest landscapes larger than 500 square kilometres at the end of 2013. This number was 3,105 square kilometres less than the amount of IFLs on the island circa 2000s. The loss was due to areas of human development, which we mapped using Landsat imagery. Our digitized areas of development activities, including a 500 meter buffer, amounts to 1,421 square kilometres of disturbance within areas mapped as intact forest landscapes as of 2000. 
We also looked at how our areas of mapped human disturbance compared to the forest cover change (tree loss/gain) dataset created by Matthew Hansen and colleagues. According to that dataset, there were 2,378 square kilometres and 1,742 square kilometres of forest gain and loss, respectively, between 2000 and 2013. Approximately 302 square kilometres of the Hansen forest loss overlaps with our mapped disturbances. Most of the remaining Hansen forest loss areas are found outside of what we mapped, as they were not considered intact forest landscapes as of the year 2000. However, there is also Hansen forest loss within the remaining intact forest landscapes. One reason for these areas is that the Hansen dataset does not distinguish natural (fire, insect) disturbance from human development activities such as logging or road infrastructure.  
The first map below illustrates the areas of intact forest landscapes of at least 500 square kilometres, as well as areas of intact forest landscape lost between 2000 and 2013. The second map overlays the intact forest landscapes with our mapped disturbance areas and with Hansen’s areas of forest loss and gain. Wynet posted many tweets as well during her trip with photos so it is worth checking out @wvsmith and @CanadaForests for more details of site visits.
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