Exploring the ‘Google Forest’ in Mozambique

Mozambique — Five years ago, few knew there was a forest here. Its discovery by the scientific community is down to a very 21st-Century research tool.

“I used Google Earth to locate all the mountains over 1,500m that were closest to Mount Mulanje in Southern Malawi,” Dr Julian Bayliss, head of the cross-border conservation project, told me.

Mount Mabu was selected through Google Earth as one of these sites.”

Dr Bayliss’s project, funded through a British scheme called the Darwin Initiative, looked for similarities between different patches of medium altitude rainforest. When images of Mount Mabu were analysed, it became clear that there was a large patch of dark green of which there was no official record.

A quickly arranged visit to northern Mozambique confirmed what Dr Bayliss had suspected.

“It was at that stage I realised that we were dealing with what looks like the biggest rainforest in Southern Africa,” he said.

Travelling with Dr Bayliss and a team of scientists on to Mabu, I saw what had so excited them. Unlike most of the forests in southern Africa there was no sign of any logging or burning having taken place. The 7,000 hectares of Mount Mabu are in pristine condition.

RTFA. Enjoy the excitement of discovery. Listen in on the thoughts of scientists exploring an island of life that no one thought existed.

Great stuff.

I’ve done local archaeological work using Google Earth. I live on one of the traces of El Camino Real – the royal highway from Mexico City to Colonial Santa Fe. I found and traced ancient ruts across the southern half of the Caja del Rio with Google Earth. Then, walked the route. Just for the fun of it.

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