We plant good deeds in Romania!: Mapping and monitoring deforestation

We plant good deeds in Romania! is a volunteer-based reforestation movement initiated in Romania. This movement involves the general public, the civil society, companies, the public administration, and the media in protecting and restoring forests.

The program has three objectives:

- Planting 300 ha (hectares) of the Romanian surface in the first year (and monitoring the plantings for 5–7 years)
- Building a virtual map of deforested areas in Romania
- Building an awareness campaign regarding the importance of forests

The Virtual Map of Deforested Areas in Romania began as a project presented at the Yahoo! Open Hack event in Bucharest (May 14th – 15th 2011), where it received recognition as "Best Hack for the Social Good.”

Map of Deforestation in Romania from OSMMap of Deforestation in Romania from OSM

The purpose of the Virtual Map of Deforested Areas is to enable identification of forest cuts in Romania using satellite images. The map will be made with participation of the general public (crowd-sourced inputs) and checked by the organizers from EcoAssist organizers, a Romanian environmental NGO, in order to build the first public inventory of deforested areas in the country. Then, the map and the complete report drawn from the application will be used to inform the authorities, as well as the media, about the issue and extent of deforestation.

The hack project was presented live after 24 hours, and it look like this:

The application developed during that weekend was also presented live and it looked like this: http://plantamfaptebune.appspot.com/forest/

A team of three hackers - Emilian Losneanu, Dragos Barbu, and Florin Buga -- worked on a prototype for this application at the Open Hack event. The technical challenge was to find the coordinates of Romanian forests. The solution was to use data provided by Open Street Map, consisting of coordinates (or "ways") for 16,000 forests.

We used a dump in OSM format from:
http://downloads.cloudmade.com/europe/eastern_europe/romania

We extracted this data and converted it to Google Maps:
http://code.google.com/apis/maps/index.html

KML format:
http://code.google.com/apis/kml/documentation/
using osmlib: http://osmlib.rubyforge.org/

The back-end is written in Java. Our hackers usedSpring and Spring MVC as application/web frameworks. They also used JAXB for XML processing with EclipseLink implementation.

We used JPA and Google's datastore for persistence:
http://code.google.com/appengine/docs/java/datastore/overview.html.

The app is hosted in the cloud on Google App Engine.

We plant good deeds in Romania! team is looking for support on the virtual map of deforested areas, but also with spreading the movement itself. Our ambition is to spread this initiative worldwide. The team believes that a good initiative deserves as much support as it can get, with either communication, partnerships, vollunteers or recommendations to any potential partner (NGO, company, institution).

The international context will help this spread, as 2011 has been declared "The International Year of Forests” by the UN General Assembly.

If you can give us some help or help spread the word, please check out the website at: http://plantamfaptebune.ro (English translation: we plant good deeds [dot] ro)

Thank you!