There’s still an unknown world out there…

By | Jan 30, 2009

I draw your attention today to this BBC audio slideshow summarizing the discoveries of Mr. Johnathan Timberlake’s team of scientists from the London Royal Botanic Garden.  It seems that by using Google Earth, their attention was drawn to a forest on Mount Mabu in northern Mozambique – they realized something was there and would be worth having a closer look.  This forest has been untouched by the modern world and until scientists used Google Earth’s tool they had not even intended to explore it.  This speaks highly of the Google Earth tool and is an interesting example of consumer technology being reapplied to advance human knowledge.

It turns out that this forest is actually a bit of a treasure.  Nestled in the mountains, it is home to a variety of species of animals some of which had not been discovered before.  The images contained in the slide show provide vivid examples of the some of the beauty of the natural world.

Naturally, the issue of deforestation comes up.  As I’m sure you all know, deforestation is a major issue for many developing countries such as Mozambique.  In order to grow things, land tends to get deforested – however unlike nutrient rich soils like in North America, in many cases these lands only have limited use and become depleted forcing people to move on.  Many people in industrialized countries point fingers at these people which is not really fair – they need to earn a living too.  It is easy to understand why third world countries see these large forests as untapped potentials of wealth: both timber and land can be valuable commodities.  Europe and North America has a long history of doing the exact same thing.  It’s just sad that so much of the natural world – and undiscovered species of animals and plants – are lost without mankind fully understanding them.  I have no solution to offer, but it’s important to think about this.  Maybe some day we will have one.

1 Comment so far
  1. […] of the frontier barriers and allowing us to discover parts of the world that would have otherwise gone un-noticed. This is collaborative research at its best – huge volumes of automatically collected data can be […]

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