I've been playing around with Google Earth's KML spreadsheet as we're thinking of ideas we can contribute from the UK office to the Greenpeace layer in the Global Awareness section (recently added: highlights of our marine work), and I was checking out some of the showcased examples of good visual mapping done by other organisations. Amongst them, I came across this little beauty which visually represents the differing rates of deforestation around the world and it's quite, quite brilliant.
When the layer opens, the blocks of colour above (in some cases, towering above) each country representing how much forest cover each has lost between 1990 and 2005. Check out Brazil and Indonesia - they're colossal - but more surprising is that China has shown a 19.5 per cent increase, picked out in verdant green.
You can click on the pie charts for more detailed figures, and there's some very useful background information about the environmental impacts of deforestation including definitions of the different grades of forest cover that usually only make sense to scientists and senior campaigners. In fact, some of the data comes from the maps of remaining forest areas we produced a couple of years ago.
Play around with the different sub-layers as it's a wealth of great, if depressing, information, including a timeline showing which areas of Brazil have borne the brunt of rainforest loss - our two friends Mato Grosso and Pará rocket above the other regions. A big round of applause to David Tryse who created the layer - I'll be checking out his other Google Earth experiments soon.