The top image is a photograph of a lush rainforest canopy. The bottom image colors each tree based on its species.

How? It’s all thanks to a special lab built by ecologist Greg Asner inside a twin-turboprop airplane. From a few thousand feet up, the Carnegie Airborne Observatory uses lasers, spectrometers and other instruments to build a detailed 3-D model of a forest, identify different species of vegetation and quantify carbon sequestration. It’s a lot quicker than tramping through the jungle and taking these measurements on foot.

A fun tidbit from the full story:
“On one occasion, he and his team mapped more than 6,500 square miles of the Colombian Amazon at night — about the size of Connecticut plus Rhode Island — flying with all their lights out to avoid being shot at by the FARC, the Colombian rebel force.

Images: Greg Asner, Carnegie Airborne Observatory

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Family photo… orang-utan style! Orphaned apes that have learned to love each other as brother and sister pose for adorable pictures The orphaned orangutans lost their parents due to deforestation. Famous photographer Mitsuaki Iwago traveled to Borneo to documents the animals in their natural habitat and at rescue centers. He hopes more will be done to protect the species and their home.
All photos by Mitsuaki Iwago via DailyMail 

Same holds in the U.S., and especially New England, which was deforested 4 times since colonization.

Watch: How Europe is greener now than 100 years ago

“More than 100 years ago, timber was used for almost everything: as fuel wood, for metal production, furniture, house construction. Hence, at around 1900 there was hardly any forest areas left in Europe. Especially after World War II, many countries started massive afforestation programs which are still running today,” Fuchs told The Washington Post.

As a result, Europe’s forests grew by a third over the last 100 years. At the same time, cropland decreased due to technological innovations such as motorization, better drainage and irrigation systems: Relatively fewer area was needed to produce the same amount of food. Furthermore, many people migrated from rural to urban areas, or overseas.

Fuchs’ fascinating conclusion: Forests and settlements grew at the same time and Europe is a much greener continent today than it was 100 years ago. A closer look at different regions and countries reveals Europe’s recovery from the deforestation of past centuries.

More of these maps at WaPo