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Global Forest Watch


11th, 12th, AP® / College


Science, Biology, Earth and Space Sciences

Resource Types

  • Articles and Websites
  • Interactive Media
  • Charts, Graphs, and Tables

Regional Focus


Two Decades of Fire-Driven Loss in Unprecendented Detail

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  • This article and series of interactive graphics present the findings of a global study on forest fires and the resulting tree cover loss over the last twenty years.
  • The article describes the new data measures used in the study, how they can be used, and how they differ from existing fire-related data.
Teaching Tips


  • Students can read a simplified version of the findings while interacting with the maps modeled after the data from the study.
  • The article also includes an interactive dashboard through which students can apply a variety of filters related to land use, land cover, forest change, biodiversity, and more.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Click the back arrow at the top left of your screen to move back through the options in the interactive data elements of the article.
  • You can see more data graphics and learn more about the study's findings by clicking on "Explore on GFW."
  • Students should be familiar with reading graphs and understand terms like contextual, spatial, temporal, and carbon sink.
  • Students should read the article before using the interactive dashboard.
  • This resource requires access to the Internet.


  • After reading the first paragraph of the article, ask students how such a study relates to climate mitigation and adaptation.
  • Younger students may find it difficult to analyze the world map in the dashboard due to the amount of information presented over a large scale. Instead, these students can begin by analyzing their country or region.
  • This resource can also be used in geography classes during lessons about the environmental conditions and industries of different countries and regions.
  • Computer science classes can use this article to discuss the importance of knowing what researchers are looking for when designing tools for data analysis or user interfaces.
  • As an extension, students can use the findings and data presented in the dashboard to draw their own conclusions about forest fires and changes in forest cover.
  • Watch this video to learn more about the role of forests as essential carbon sinks and this video to learn more about the causes of wildfires and prevention methods.
Scientist Notes
This article describes new data from the University of Maryland that allows scientists to have a more detailed view of how fires are driving tree loss across the world. Additionally the areas with the top tree loss due to fire and the reasons why the tree loss occurs is examined. Links are provided in the article to related topics and data used. This resource is recommended for teaching.

This resource addresses the listed standards. To fully meet standards, search for more related resources.

  • Science
    • ESS2: Earth's Systems
      • HS-ESS2-2. Analyze geoscience data to make the claim that one change to Earth’s surface can create feedbacks that cause changes to other Earth systems.
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • HS-ESS3-3. Create a computational simulation to illustrate the relationships among the management of natural resources, the sustainability of human populations, and biodiversity.
      • HS-ESS3-6. Use a computational representation to illustrate the relationships among Earth systems and how those relationships are being modified due to human activity.
    • LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
      • HS-LS2-2. Use mathematical representations to support and revise explanations based on evidence about factors affecting biodiversity and populations in ecosystems of different scales.
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