From space, the earth’s great forests and rivers still seem intact and flowing. The Congo Basin rainforest straddles Africa extending across the continent, regulating the regional climate, providing food and livelihoods to millions, and refuge to thousands of species including forest elephants and chimpanzees.

Asia’s great rivers – the Mekong, Brahmaputra, the Yangtze, etc – meander from the head waters of the Himalayas before flowing down to the mouths of Vietnam Delta and the Bangladesh, providing water, food, and energy to hundreds of millions of people. And the vast plains of the Dakotas still remain some of most sparsely populated regions of the United States.

Zoom in further, the threats to these great natural phenomena become apparent. Forests and rivers face both seen and unseen dangers. Forests are strafed by logging roads, which cut deep in intact forest areas. The loggers extract valuable timber, feeding ever growing demand for tropical hardwoods. They provide jobs for a few but when poorly managed, leave the forests vulnerable to hunting and conversion to agriculture.

Hot on their heels, comes industrial agriculture, converting the degraded land into oil palm, cacao, and eucalyptus plantations. Asia rivers are increasingly being dammed to provide energy for rapidly growing cities as well as diverting water to arid regions. And fracking sites dot the plains across North America. Many of these activities are visible from satellites but unmapped, and their scale and impacts undocumented. This lack of transparency creates a culture of impunity that allows bad actors to go unpunished and good actors to go unrecognized.

Map for Environment’s aim is to quite literally put logging roads, industrial agriculture, dams, and fracking on the map.

Map for Environment

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Alex E

Ecoclimax is defined by Odum (1969) as the culmination state after a succession in a stabilized ecosystem in which maximum biomass (or high information content) and symbiotic function among organisms is kept per unit of available energy flow.